Conques Summer School

Exploring Materiality of a Sacred Space:
Field Research, Data Collecting,
Landscape Exploration

June 15–19, 2021

Tuesday June 15

15.00 Ivan Foletti (Masaryk University, Brno):
Conques in the Global World (keynote lecture)
16.00 Adrien Palladino (Masaryk University, Brno):
Conques in Light of the 19th Century (guided tour)
18.00 Meeting of the Principal Investigators


Wednesday June 16

10.00 Lei Huang (HiCSA, University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne):
Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy at Conques Revisited:
Architecture and Sculpture in Light of Recent Research
(keynote lecture)
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Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy at Conques Revisited:
Architecture and Sculpture in Light of Recent Research

Despite numerous studies devoted to the abbey church Sainte-Foy at Conques, the old stones of this masterpiece of Romanesque art continue to keep some of its secrets. Our recent archaeological study of the church, which focuses on the building materiality such as different petrographic types, stone-cutting techniques, masons’ marks, putlog holes and masonry discontinuities, has allowed not only to appreciate the progress of construction work, but also to better understand technical and economic dimensions of this major Romanesque building project. This archaeological approach makes it possible to propose a construction phasing, which offers an independent and efficient framework for a comprehensive study of the sculpture of Sainte-Foy. The sculpture evolution has thus been traced through a global stylistic approach. Artistic transfers between Conques, Santiago de Compostela and Auvergne have also been better defined, which enables us to reconsider the chronology of Romanesque churches of Auvergne, especially as Conques and Auvergne were located in the same technical geography during the second half of the eleventh century.

15.00 Eric Sparhubert, Noël Richard, Lei Huang, Cécile Voyer (University of Poitiers, National Centre for Scientific Research & HiCSA, University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne):
Architecture and Its Decor (11th–12th c.):
New Issues for Understanding the Abbey of Conques

(History of Art, Building Archaeology, Archaeometry) (workshop)


Thursday June 17

10.00 Kristen Racaniello (Graduate Center, City University of New York):
The Shrine Complex of Conques: Compiling Material Narrative (keynote lecture)
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The Shrine Complex of Conques: Compiling Material Narrative

How does an efficacious shrine cultivate and expand its magnetism for new pilgrims and devotees? Contrary to the contemporary image of roadside memorials and miraculous apparitions as “viral narratives” sparked by an almost spontaneous desire to witness and memorialize, the material manifestations of medieval cults were often fuelled by strategic impresarios of the saint. These promoters “imagineered” fervour around the shrine by generating material and textual documents that shaped participant’s sensorial experience in shrine space. One of the most significant shrine imagineers of Conques was Bernard of Angers, who initiated the Liber miraculorum sancte Fidis. This document shaped the emergence of the medieval shrine imaginary of Sainte Foy. In this talk, I will sketch the image of the vibrant material shrine complex cultivated in the years following Bernard’s pilgrimage to the shrine of Sainte Foy. Ultimately, I aim to elicit the manner, by which material accretions acted as mirrors of spoken, written, and enacted narratives asserting the efficacy of Sainte Foy’s miraculous power.

15.00 Masaryk University: students’ workshop
(Jana Černocká, Veronika Borůvková – Veronika Hermanová, Klára Doležalová, Katarína Kravčíková, Martin Lešák, Sabina Rosenbergová, Pavla Tichá)


Friday June 18

10.00 Vincent Debiais (Center for Historical Researches, EHESS/CNRS-Paris):
Inscriptions and Artifacts in Conques: An Anthropological Perspective (keynote lecture)
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Inscriptions and Artifacts in Conques: An Anthropological Perspective

Many of the images and artifacts known or preserved for Sainte-Foy in Conques contain one or several epigraphic inscriptions. No photographic reproduction of the tympanum for example ignores the verse inscription engraved between the scenes of the monumental theophany, and its content is used as an evidence of the catechistic purpose of the sculpted images. When engraved on the metalwork pieces, inscriptions state abbot Begon’s role in the making of reliquaries and emphasize the liturgical function of the objects. The inscriptions of Conques attest, along with the images and artifacts, to the creative vitality of the abbey during the Middle Ages. Their analysis by the gigantic historiography on the Sainte-Foy monumental complex has significantly contributed to the institution of the artistic heritage of Conques. However, this museography-like approach, in which the inscription always appears as a complement to a primary work (an image, a sculpture, a reliquary), can divert the analysis of these objects from the anthropological issues of the act of writing within the context of the artistic production of the Middle Ages. Therefore, this presentation aims to go back to the graphic data themselves, regardless of their “usefulness” for art history, and to consider what the inscription reveals about the status of objects and images in the epigraphic network that unfolds throughout the site of Conques, from the great titulus of the tympanum to the most discrete inscription in the treasure.

15.00 Masaryk University: workshop on the Conques treasury


Saturday June 19

10.00  Consortium meeting
18.00 Ivan Foletti (Masaryk University, Brno):
Conques: une perle du patrimoine européen. Nouvelles perspectives pour un projet international (lecture for general public)
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Conques: une perle du patrimoine européen. Nouvelles perspectives pour un projet international

Conques-en-Rouergue est un site unique de par la richesse de son héritage matériel et immatériel. Dès le haut Moyen-Âge, il s’agit d’une véritable croisée des chemins qui unissent l’Europe. Aujourd’hui encore, des milliers de pèlerins s’affolent pour visiter ce lieu exceptionnel. Très connue en France, et étudiée de manière approfondie par les chercheurs et érudits locaux, Conques jouit d’une attention intellectuelle incessante depuis le dix-neuvième siècle. Après tant d’années d’études, est-il encore possible de porter un regard nouveau sur ce site millénaire ?

Cette conférence voudrait présenter une possible perspective pour atteindre un objectif aussi ambitieux. Son but est de révéler Conques dans un contexte global et par une approche en ronde-bosse, prenant en compte l’intégralité de son écosystème. Au-delà des monuments, du paysage, et de l’histoire, le phénomène Conques sera présenté comme un lieu où l’individu est parti intégrante d’une symphonie unissant nature et culture.

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