The Visual Hagiography of St. Margaret of Antioch in Thirteenth-Century Stained Glass in Europe Open Access

Laverock, Ashley Jordan (2016)

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This dissertation is a study of the visual hagiography of the early Christian virgin martyr St. Margaret of Antioch in thirteenth-century stained glass in Europe at the French cathedrals of Chartres and Auxerre, the French church of Saint-Julien-du-Sault, and the Church of St. Margaret at Ardagger Abbey in Austria. These monumental narratives depicting Margaret's life have not been seriously studied. Research on Margaret focuses on her textual vitae and on her role as a patroness of childbirth. In contrast, I demonstrate that conceptions of Margaret in thirteenth-century stained glass are more nuanced, tailored to each unique context through the window's location within the church's sacred topography and through its relationship with surrounding imagery and the church's liturgical rituals. Each window expresses a different version of Margaret's life through the scenes selected to depict her story and through the use of diverse narrative strategies. Furthermore, stained glass involved both the laity and clergy in its production, reflecting institutional identity and programmatic thinking, while also drawing on lay patrons. I argue that the patrons of these windows used these highly visible visual narratives to claim Margaret for their own purposes, including promoting the saint's local relics, highlighting the saint's intercessory efficacy, encouraging devotion to the saint, or conveying moral models for viewers. Chapter one examines the history of Margaret's cult and vitae. Chapter two discusses the historiography of the cult of saints and stained glass. Chapter three considers the Margaret window at Auxerre, which cleaves closely to her textual vita and emphasizes her tortures and the witnesses to her suffering. A consideration of the nearby Margaret window at Saint-Julien-du-Sault reveals the significance of multiple depictions of Margaret within close geographic proximity. Chapter four examines the window depicting Margaret at Chartres, where she appears less like a virgin martyr and more similar to the confessor saints surrounding her through an omission of her tortures. Chapter five discusses the window of Margaret at Ardagger Abbey. At Ardagger, Latin verse inscriptions surrounding each scene of Margaret's life offer commentary on and interpretations of the imagery that encouraged prolonged contemplation on the significance of Margaret's passion.

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