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A Paradise of Priests

A Paradise of Priests: Singing the Civic and Episcopal Hagiography of Medieval Liège

Catherine Saucier
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 342
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  • Book Info
    A Paradise of Priests
    Book Description:

    In the "priestly paradise" of medieval Liège, sacred music became a pervasive and versatile medium by which the clergy promoted the holy status of their city. While this hotbed of female piety and Eucharistic devotion is recognized as a center of liturgical innovation and clerical writing, the symbiosis of saintly and civic ideals voiced in locally composed plainchant and polyphony has remained overlooked. The key to unlocking the civic meaning of this music lies in the saints' legends and bishops' deeds from which it emerged and in the rituals and performance spaces in which it was heard. In 'A Paradise of Priests', Catherine Saucier forges new interdisciplinary connections between musicology, the liturgical arts, the cult of saints, church history, and urban studies to demonstrate how 'liégeois' clerics constructed a civic sacred identity through sung rituals in conjunction with hagiographic writing and relic display. Focusing on the veneration and influence of five bishops active between the seventh and sixteenth centuries, Saucier explains how the performance of sacred music accrued new meanings at moments of signal importance in the life of the city. 'A Paradise of Priests' is an essential resource for scholars and students interested in the history of the Low Countries, hagiography and its reception, and ecclesiastical institutions. Catherine Saucier is Assistant Professor of Music History at Arizona State University.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-836-7
    Subjects: Music, Religion, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Note on Editorial Conventions
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Introduction: The Sound of Civic Sanctity in the Priestly Paradise of Liège
    (pp. 1-10)

    When cantor Henry of Palude intoned the AntiphonLaetare et laudabefore the entire clerical community of Liège, the melodious sound of his voice was the sole musical accompaniment to an extraordinary ritual—the nude display of Saint Lambert’s skull. With this plainchant, the cantor and his choir simulanteously invoked the symbolic protection of the patron of the diocese and the martyred bishop-saint’s real presence. Only under exceptional circumstances, as at this ceremony in 1489, did cathedral clerics open the saint’s reliquary to publicly exhibit his bare bones. Yet, rather than herald the martyr’s cranial relic, the cantor and choristers...

  8. Chapter One Martyred Bishops and Civic Origins: Promoting the Clerical City
    (pp. 11-48)

    In hisActs of the Bishops of Liège(published in 1612), local historian John of Chapeaville attributed the city’s status and peaceful state to the spilled blood of its martyred bishop, Saint Lambert:

    We will never give sufficient honor to the martyr, our patron, who in this place, in Liège, formerly a humble and unknown village, spilled his blood for truth and justice…. He attracted such blessing and such celebrity that this small settlement (vicus), better suited to shelter wild beasts than men, soon became a city (urbs) comparable to the most important [cities] of all the neighboring provinces. By...

  9. Chapter Two The Intersecting Cults of Saints Theodard and Lambert: Validating Bishops as Martyrs
    (pp. 49-93)

    Saints Theodard and Lambert shared a distinctive rank in theliégeoisrite. Of the thirteen local bishops featured in the annual cycle of saints’ feasts, these two alone were classified as martyrs.¹ Through their martyrial status, Theodard and Lambert thus outshone the most distinguished early bishops of the diocese—Maternus (the diocesan “founder” and first bishop of Tongeren) and Servatius (first bishop of Maastricht)—venerated as mere confessors. Hagiographers recognized this distinction, as we might recall from Sigebert of Gembloux’s late eleventh-centuryVita Theodardi:

    God did not wish Theodard and Lambert to be far separated in burial. Foreseeing that they...

  10. Chapter Three The Civic Cult of Saint Hubert: Venerating Bishops as Founders
    (pp. 94-136)

    With this poetic appeal to the citizens of Liège published in 1612,¹ theologian Sebastian Hustin lauded Saint Hubert’s civic and episcopal attributes. Hustin’s claim, in the preceding verses, that it was Hubert (d. 727) who had “given laws and established justice for the inhabitants,” echoed a longstanding perception of the bishop’s urban undertakings first documented in theGesta pontificum Trajectensium et Leodiensiumin the mid-eleventh century by Canon Anselm. In his entry on Hubert’s episcopate, the cathedral canon credited this prelate not only with the promotion of “humble” Liège to the seat of the diocese, but equally with the institution...

  11. Chapter Four Clerical Concord, Disharmony, and Polyphony: Commemorating Bishop Notger’s City
    (pp. 137-167)

    The earthly successors to the three saintly founders of Liège—Bishops Theodard, Lambert, and Hubert—oversaw the subsequent growth of this holy terrain into a true ecclesiastical city. Following its birth around the site of Lambert’s martyrdom in the early eighth century, Liège witnessed a second period of church construction in the tenth and eleventh centuries resulting from episcopal initiatives. Bishops Richer (920–45), Eraclus (959–71), Notger (972–1008), and Balderic II (1008–18) personally approved the founding of seven collegiate churches—the secular chapters that rendered Liège a veritable city of clerics.¹ These canons enhanced the bishop’s power...

  12. Chapter Five Military Triumph, Civic Destruction, and the Changing Face of Saint Lambert’s Relics: Invoking the Defensor Patriae
    (pp. 168-201)

    Saint Lambert was extolled in the later Middle Ages not only as a virtuous martyr, but as an equally vigorous protector. In a brief allusion to the auspicious significance of the saint’s name, the tenth-century author of theCarmen de sancto Landbertointerpreted “Landbert” to mean “defender of thepatria” (defensor patriae).¹ Thus by name alone, Lambert could be summoned to protect his fatherland—an etymological association that proved especially effective in times of war. Indeed, the joint protective and patriotic significance of the saint’s identity became literally “embodied” in his relics, through their veneration on the battlefield by local...

  13. Conclusion: Hearing Civic Sanctity
    (pp. 202-204)

    We will conclude our study of the civic sanctification of medieval Liège in the way we began—by listening toLaetare et lauda. In many ways, this plainchant antiphon constitutes the liturgical equivalent of a theme song, repeatedly voicing a familiar idea and melody at different times, in different contexts, and by different means.Laetare et laudagave musical voice to the ideal of civic merit first infused into Saint Lambert’s vita by Sigebert of Gembloux, the late eleventh-century monk who wrote for prominent members of the episcopal entourage at precisely the time that the bishop and his all-powerful cathedral...

  14. Appendix: Service Books Preserving the Medieval Chant Repertory Sung in the City of Liège
    (pp. 205-206)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 207-258)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-286)
  17. Index
    (pp. 287-300)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)