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Saint François au Mont-Saint-Michel : enquête sur la transmission mémorielle d'une image disparue

Abstract : In the cloister of La Merveille at Mont-Saint-Michel, a XIIIth-century carved spandrel, now almost worn away, is only known thanks to some early modern documents from the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, due to the Maurist Fathers, who wrote the history of the monastery, and N-J. Foucault, intendant for Lower-Normandy. They record that it was a representation of St Francis, modelled on the pattern of a picture by Joachim of Flora in Saint Mark's basilica in Venice. They also report a nearby inscription (lost as well) reminding that, in this very year 1228, the saint was canonised and the cloister completed. This information is essential for all architecture specialists of the Mont, since it allows to give a time-line to the other different stages of the work in La Merveille. But no sufficient attention has been paid to the way these data were composed and conveyed. We will explore these documents in their context and analyse the issue of viewer-response to this St Francis sculpture, throughout Middle Ages and Early Modern period. This study deals with the textual and visual tradition, which connected the Normand image to the abbot of Flora and to the XIIIth-century Venice. It appears that the memory of the Benedictine scholars was unexpectedly involved in the crisis dividing the Minors, between Observants and Capuchins, about the original pattern of the Franciscan habit, since this medieval carving was considered as a reliable depiction of the genuine habit of St Francis. Considering such a contextualization within the religious events of the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, and through other analyses in the fields of epigraphy and iconography, it allows for doubting the year 1228, not only regarding the carving of St Francis, but also, consequently, concerning the whole cloister's construction.
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Contributor : Véronique Rouchon Mouilleron Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 3:18:59 PM
Last modification on : Monday, April 19, 2021 - 10:54:02 AM



Véronique Rouchon Mouilleron. Saint François au Mont-Saint-Michel : enquête sur la transmission mémorielle d'une image disparue. Journal des Savants, De Boccard, 2014, 2, pp.205-234. ⟨10.3406/jds.2014.6317⟩. ⟨halshs-00982241⟩



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