PhD defence: Valentina Covaci
Valentina Covaci, ASH PhD candidate, will defend her dissertation entitled 'Between traditions: The Franciscans of Mount Sion and their Rituals (1330-1517)', supervised by professor Guy Geltner and dr Michele Campopiano.
This dissertation examines the role of rituals in the first two centuries of Franciscan presence in Jerusalem. In this period, Jerusalem was an Islamic city, part of the Mamluk Empire. The friars’ ceremonial life in Jerusalem and its replication in Franciscan European outposts shows that rituals constituted a means of engaging with the landscape of the city and its communities, and of transferring devotional practices from Jerusalem to Europe and vice versa.
The in-depth analysis of Franciscan Jerusalemite rituals complements the previous scholarship dedicated to the friars’ Holy Land endeavors. This dissertation focuses on topics passed over by previous research, such as the understanding of Franciscan hagiopolite rituals as markers of identity and yardsticks of orthodoxy.
Moreover, the research presented hereby contributes to the better understanding of relations between communities living in late medieval Jerusalem, especially of inter-Christian communication. In this dissertation, the dynamic of their coexistence was investigated from the perspective of their daily encounters through rituals. The focus on ritual offers a minute perspective on the daily negotiation of their presence, animating both the irenic and the polemic dialogue between these communities.
In conclusion, this dissertation shows how a religious minority, in this case the Franciscan friars of Jerusalem, can circumvent the boundaries of restrictive legislation and affirm its identity in an alien religious context. It also demonstrates how rituals functioned as vehicles of cultural transmission between the Christian traditions of Rome and the Eastern Churches.
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