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