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Epilogue: Bavaria Sancta and the Living Past
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Epilogue: Bavaria Sancta and the Living Past

In the seventeenth century, the story types pioneered by writers of the early Counter-Reformation pilgrimage book continued to resonate in Bavaria. Of these, holiness tried yet triumphant remained a dominant topos in the apologetic histories the clergy crafted to explain and defend their cults. Indeed, the persistence of this imagery of conflict and resolution is a striking feature of Bavarian literature in the early modern period. Long after Protestantism had ceased to be a viable threat to the Roman Church in the region, legends about images and relics imperiled were still commonly called upon to defend local devotions. The survival of this topos and its assiduous promotion by Bavaria's clerics cannot, however, be interpreted as a case of collective paranoia or entrenched xenophobia. For religion continued to inspire political, social, and military conflict in the empire during this time, which in turn affected Bavaria's reviving pilgrimage shrines. Indeed, the accusations of desecration that appeared occasionally in chapbooks, in artistic depictions of shrine legends, and in oral culture were sometimes quite justified.

By 1700 Bavaria's clergy were producing a literature of sorts that traded tales not about people, but about sacred sites. For most of the territory's pilgrims—peasants, artisans, and day workers—these books still were inaccessible. When these people bought souvenirs of their journeys to local holy places, they most often purchased single-page prints, much like that reproduced in figure 13 advertising the Altötting pilgrimage. Typical of a style common in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Bavaria, this broadside shows Mary suspended above the Bavarian countryside, while below, on earth, she reappears together with SS. Philip and James offering aid to the faithful. Prints like these reminded the pious of the very real fruits of intercession available to those willing to make pilgrimages. And unlike the longer and more involved pilgrimage book, which often ap-


pealed to a Bavarian cultural identity and relied on distant events or personages from the past, printed broadsides required only that the viewer recognize the physical confines of the sacred site. In the late seventeenth century, despite a slow and steady rise in literacy rates, most Bavarian pilgrims had still not read the pious and sometimes fantastic histories fashioned by several generations of CounterReformation apologists. The direct impact of the pilgrimage book, then, was confined, yet its indirect role as a vehicle for the diffusion of legends about major sites still exerted an important influence on the early modern imagination. Widely circulated among literate clergy and devout laity, works like these helped codify the generally accepted explanations for the origins of Bavaria's shrines.

In the histories of many shrines, life often imitated the art of the pilgrimage book narrative. Mirroring St. Benno's imposing translation to Munich, dramatic image and relic rescues continued to occur throughout the seventeenth century. By a kind of ritualized didacticism, these incidents reenacted visually the text of holiness tried yet triumphant for onlookers on the rural highways and streets of Bavarian towns. These images had suffered but then emerged victorious, and clerical promoters advertised them as sources of power that could be used in the present to wage war against unyielding contingency.

At Passau, diocesan officials nurtured the development of a cult that venerated an image of the Virgin painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Produced before the Saxon artist's conversion to Lutheranism, the painting was believed to possess miraculous powers, and its "rescue" from obscurity in Protestant territory was advertised in a manner similar to St. Benno's translation from Meissen: as a victory for Catholicism. Arriving in Passau in 1622, the image was installed in a chapel in the bishop's residence, where a cathedral canon had a copy made for his own personal devotion. Soon the canon learned that candlelight processions were being conducted on Saturday evenings to a previously shunned and feared hillside on the outskirts of the city. Interpreting this "miracle" as a sign that his copy of the Virgin's image wished to be revered at this site, the canon had a chapel constructed there to house the painting.[1] In 1627, a larger church was erected on the spot and a small devotion


grew, but it was not until 1633 that the pilgrimage swelled dramatically following Passau's siege by Swedish armies. Clergy and lay people alike credited the picture, the subject of which by now was known as the Mariahilf , with saving the city from conquest. The following year, the picture's popularity increased yet again when the local population believed that the horrors of a plague epidemic had been quelled owing to its protection.[2] The success of the painting in making the previously feared hillside safe, in subduing the invading armies, and in overcoming the demons of disease assured it a venerable history. During the devastation of the Thirty Years War, numerous Bavarian towns, villages, and parishes commissioned copies of the Mariahilfbild , and installed them in specially constructed chapels where they were believed to render protection against disease and the chaos of the war. In addition, the Mariahilf devotion celebrated the image's "miraculous" rescue from Protestant possession and its arrival in Bavaria, a place where its following could flourish.[3]

Triumph over oppressors provided the counter-reformers innumerable opportunities for advertising the cult of the saints as an antidote to Protestant heresy. A "miraculous" painting of the Virgin was brought to Straubing from a Catholic cloister in Protestant Heilbronn in 1661 and received in a triumphal procession through the city. This image, like the relics of St. Benno, had suffered at the hands of iconoclasts. Although it had repulsed the first challenge to its power during the Peasants' War of 1525, in 1550 Protestants seized the Madonna.[4] Its Carmelite protectors produced a copy, but this reproduction was itself threatened with destruction during the Thirty Years War before being finally taken to safety. When it arrived in Straubing in the 1660s, the Madonna thus possessed a rich tradition of trial and triumph, which the Carmelites exploited over the next century in both artistic and textual imagery.[5]


In the imperial city of Regensburg, where most burghers were Protestant, the Catholic clergy rejoiced in a similar, if less dramatic, victory when, in 1675, cathedral clerics purchased a statue of the Virgin from a Protestant couple whose children had used it as a doll. Installed in a chapel near the Cathedral, this image bespoke the "miracle" of the Virgin's preservation and gave rise to a small, local pilgrimage.[6]

The triumph of relics and images such as those at Munich, Passau, Straubing, and Regensburg provided the Catholic reformers with imposing events to exploit in print and art and to transmit into oral culture as well. The sheer numbers of "tried yet triumphant" cults that appeared during the Counter-Reformation, and their wide geographical diffusion throughout Bavaria, are convincing evidence of the popularity that this explanation for shrines assumed. In the diocese of Regensburg alone, one unsystematic study has identified twelve cults that developed around images and relics believed to have been the victims of Protestant torture.[7]

Although tales of holiness tried yet triumphant became commonplace, their original polemical purpose was gradually elevated to a principle of piety in Bavaria. As the Roman Church regained an unchallenged position in the territory during the late 1600s, moreover, the pilgrimage book gradually came to reflect more the literary tastes of the Bavarian elite than confessional disagreements over the cult of saints and their shrines. A work like Balthasar Regler's Azwinischer Bogen , published in 1679, is typical of this change.[8] Replete with classical imagery, Regler's account of the legend and miracles of Our Lady of Bogenberg is full of humanist pretensions. He arranged his miracle stories according to the four elements—earth, water, fire, and air—and he clothed the Madonna in rich literary allusions. In this sense his work, with its elemental physics,


classical motifs, and pompous language, had departed far from the polemical and confessional roots of Martin Eisengrein's Our Lady of Altötting . Nevertheless, the canons of content first established in the early decades of the Counter-Reformation still inform the book. Its organization, including the outline of its chapters, mimicked works like Eisengrein's, recounting an intricate legend about the foundation of the shrine and describing the development of the pilgrimage to the site. The story told in Azwinischer Bogen was quite fantastic. During a period of iconoclasm in Constantinople, a group of heretics threw an image of the Virgin into the Bosphorus. Swimming against the tide, the statue made its way up the Danube to rest at the foot of the Bogenberg. There Count Aswin, scion of a pious noble line, rescued the image, installed it in his family chapel, and nurtured the growth of the Madonna's devotion.

Regler's account of the torture of a sacred object recalls events the Counter-Reformers had promoted since the earliest days of the Catholic resurgence. Elsewhere in Bavaria, other authors were working to raise the celebration of cultic victories to something approaching "high art." The case of Neukirchen bei Heilig Blut in particular demonstrates how this legendary type—originally born of the medieval tales of Hostienfrevel —was used to reanimate CounterReformation piety. In the later Middle Ages, Neukirchen had been a site of a Bleeding Host devotion. Sometime around 1600, however, the clerical overseers of this shrine transformed their pilgrimage into a Marian cult.

By 1671, with the publication of the Franciscan priest Fortunatus Huber's Ripe Pomegranate (fig. 14), Neukirchen's legend achieved its final codification. Huber drew upon a manuscript about Neukirchen's origins written in 1611 and a brief pilgrimage book published in 1640 to create a work filled with baroque symbolism and sexuality, prayers to the Virgin, and a detailed account of all the "historical" facts known about the site.[9] In carefully sculpted language, Huber's book explains the circumstances surrounding the


Madonna's victory over Hussitism. After relating the history of the surrounding region, he proceeds to tell the shrine's legend. Originally a place where a "rediscovered" holy host was revered, Neukirchen had seen its devotion expand dramatically in the midfifteenth century when the church was visited by a group of Hussites, one of whom had worked a series of tortures on the statue of the Virgin. As in the tales of crimes against the host, the "godless" Hussite attacked the image with fire and water. Each time, however, the Virgin returned intact to her place of honor on the altar of the church. In a final desperate attempt, the Hussite stabbed the Virgin's brow, sending forth a stream of "holy blood." Terrified by the consequences of his deed, the offender attempted to flee the site, but his horse's hooves would not rise from the ground. In the end, he could not leave the Virgin's presence until he had confessed and begged her forgiveness. Throughout the text, Huber extols the "garnetlike" drops of the Virgin's blood, which the Hussite had caused to be spilled on the earth of Bavaria. She was, he says, like a ripe pomegranate, which reveals its precious seeds only when placed under the blade of a knife. This great miracle had caused continued intercessions to flow from the "well" of Mary's mercy at Neukirchen.

Our Lady of Neukirchen might have responded with forgiveness in exchange for submission, but elsewhere Mary was not so beneficent. At Weissenregen, purchasers of the shrine's history read a similar legend involving an iconoclastic Calvinist. When he attempted to consign the church's image of the Virgin to a watery grave in a well, the Madonna sprang from the depths and slew the heretic with his own sword.[10]

While tales of tortured images continued to appear, an increasing fancifulness is detectable in both the oral and written legends of this type. At Maria-Ort near Regensburg, for instance, pilgrims viewed an image of what was perhaps Christianity's only "surfing" Madonna. By the mid-seventeenth century, the legend of this shrine had become filled with elements of whimsy. Like Our Lady of Bogenberg, Maria-Ort's Madonna had traveled up the Danube after


Byzantine iconoclasts threw her into the Bosphorus. Yet she had made her journey untouched by the currents, hydroplaning across the waters on a juniper branch.[11]

Within this category of holiness tried yet triumphant must also be included the numerous Bavarian shrines that celebrated the legend of the holy house at Loreto. In that Italian tale, angels had whisked the holy family's house away from impending doom at the hands of infidels in Palestine and brought the structure to Loreto. Popular throughout Europe, this legend became a staple of Bavarian piety thanks to the exertions of the Fuggers in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Fresh from their successful 1570 pilgrimage to the shrine, the Fugger family sent their architect to take measurements of the Holy House.[12] In the succeeding decades they erected numerous copies of the santa casa throughout Bavaria. But the Loreto cult did not bloom solely because of contact with Italy or the enthusiastic support of the elite Fuggers. In Sossau in Lower Bavaria, for example, a "homegrown" Loreto developed that made use of the ideas inherent in the Italian legend. There peasants revered their own santa casa , but this one had stood not in Italy, but in a Protestant territory in Germany. Threatened with destruction, the house had been saved by angels who dropped it at Sossau, a place where it could be truly revered by people who realized its immense power.[13]

Alongside the numerous stories of victorious images and statues, legends of dramatic rediscoveries, or of "holiness lost and found," continued to reappear as well in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Not surprisingly, crossover occurred between


these two plot types, for "rediscovered" images, relics, and statues were often claimed to have been tried by iconoclasts and heretics.[14] Tales of both types also attempted to connect the history of specific local shrines to the great dramas of Christian history.

Although somewhat less common than the "tried yet triumphant" type, legends of holiness lost and found were similarly enduring.[15] As late as 1700, stories similar to that of Andechs were still being reported in Bavaria. In that year, for instance, three drops of Christ's blood were "miraculously" rediscovered enclosed in a vial within the altar of a church in the Bavarian village of Niederachdorf.[16]

In this category should also be included the many legends of "wandering images," or verschleppte Gnadenbilder , in which an older, usually medieval, image is "miraculously" rediscovered in an improbable location, such as a tree or brook. Installed at the local parish church, the image continues to wander back to its place of discovery, until finally local villagers construct a pilgrimage chapel at that site. Stories of wandering images appear to have been the popular oral counterpart of the grander, clerically promoted legends of shrines like Andechs, since none appears in the printed pilgrimage literature that the clergy produced. At Dautersdorf in the diocese of Regensburg, for example, a clay copy of the Madonna of Altötting was found in the hollow of a birch tree about half a mile from the village. The villagers were always fetching the sacred image from the tree, where it would go each night, back to their parish church. In the end, a small chapel was built to house the figure and a pilgrimage developed at the site.[17] The story outlines are much the same at Heilbrünnl, where a shepherd discovered an ancient image of the Madonna in a stream. Water would not flow around the image, nor would the picture allow itself to be retrieved


until the local inhabitants promised to build a chapel to house it.[18] Stories like these were common during the Counter-Reformation, both in Bavaria and in other European regions.[19] In Bavaria in particular, the statues and images discovered were always either copies of other venerable pilgrimage icons, like the Passau Mariahilfbild or the Altötting Madonna, or very old medieval images. This dimension of the legend appears at least in part to bear the imprint of clerical influence. In the diocese of Regensburg, Bishop Wartenburg, who served during the 1660s and 1670s, decreed that all images revered in churches should be of a venerable age, and he actively encouraged the development of a number of devotions to older images that had been "rediscovered" after neglect.[20]

Meanwhile, the third story type, "holiness suddenly revealed," remained relatively rare. During the 1600s the clergy exploited only one such legend in print, and the controversy that it created reveals a great deal about how the Bavarian clergy was attempting to mold Counter-Reformation pilgrimage. Soon after 1619, a devotion developed at Taxa, a village outside Munich, when a chicken produced a miraculous egg on which was inscribed a star and, within that, an image of the crowned Heavenly Queen. At first, the new pilgrimage was favorably received by the local bishop, the Wittelsbachs, and members of the Bavarian nobility. When it rotted, Taxa's miraculous egg was replaced with an image of the Virgin that became the focus of pilgrims' devotion. When a group of Augustinians assumed control of the pilgrimage around 1650, it flourished even more. In the 1680s, however, a furor arose when the famous Augustinian preacher Abraham à Sancta Clara wrote a pilgrimage book for the shrine entitled Cluck, Cluck, Cluck: A Miraculous Hen in the Duchy of Bavaria .[21] When Sancta Clara first submitted his work to the local bishop at Freising for approval, he was forced to remove some of his miracle accounts and in general to "tone down" his


rhetoric.[22] We will never know what Freising's bishop found offensive, because the first version no longer survives; Sancta Clara's edited work, however, remains a model of Counter-Reformation rectitude that still ranks as a "classic" of German Catholic literature. Nonetheless, even after Sancta Clara had significantly altered his book, the Freising bishop, who was initially a cult supporter, remained suspicious. And once the shrine's past was exploited in print—that is, broadcast to the reading public—he disavowed the cult.[23]

Why did the bishop of Freising react thus to Taxa, which was a good revenue raiser and from all accounts a focus for popular devotion? The answer is simple. The dominant strains of mythmaking tapped by the clergy to revive Bavaria's shrines were grounded primarily in history and tradition. Such traditionalizing had been necessary to surmount the Protestant charge that contemporary shrines were "diabolic" innovations designed to lead people astray or to raise money for a grasping ecclesiastical hierarchy. By connecting local cults with the great dramas of biblical and ecclesiastical history, Catholic clerics placed these shrines—together with their precipitant contemporary miracles—at the very center of the Christian tradition. Spontaneously pronounced shrines like Taxa, however, had no contact with the great past of which they should have been a product; thus they were to be avoided. Further, such shrines left the Church open to the charge of encouraging idolatry by seeming to make objects like Taxa's short-lived miraculous egg as important as the saints, their relics, or, generally, the long history that gave rise to and nurtured "legitimate" local pilgrimages.

Theatricality and precedent were the primary foundations of the counter-reformers' pilgrimage propaganda; it is not surprising, then, that the early modern pilgrimage book can be mined to reveal Bavarians' perceptions of sacred time and space. Many historians have observed the dearth of great literature in the Catholic regions of early modern Germany.[24] Although these shrine chapbooks can


make no case for inclusion within what until so recently was confidently referred to as the "universal canon," they were nevertheless literary entertainment for large numbers of people throughout the early modern era. This literature and the revolution in mythmaking that it helped to generate has been little noticed beyond the boundaries of Bavaria. Even in Germany, systematic study of these genres has been undertaken by folklorists, not historians, a lack of attention that derives from the very peculiarity of this tradition.

When we open the works of the "universal canon"—from the grobian tales of Rabelais to the epic of Cervantes and the fanciful world of Molière—we enter an imagined society in which the foibles, perils, and delights of earthly existence are satirized, criticized, and extolled. The raw materials of this literature are the problems of life in a civil society. In Bavaria, clerical influence on all literary forms was too far-reaching and persistent to allow this kind of secular literature to flourish. Religious works therefore had to satisfy the appetites of the Bavarian reader, and pilgrimage books were one of the most enduring, pervasive parts of this literature.

In comparing the pilgrimage book with the "universal canon," we at once confront essential differences. Unlike fiction, the pilgrimage book was believed to be true, both empirically and spiritually. And rather than treating life in imagined societies, the work had a subject—the pilgrimage shrine—that lay beyond the social sphere. Both the "universal canon" and the Bavarian pilgrimage book dealt with timeless issues, but in the latter it was man's relationship to the holy and to biblical and ecclesiastical tradition that predominated, not the pleasures and pains of life in society. Indeed, the primary function of the pilgrimage book was to encourage people to depart from society and experience a higher reality at the shrine. Upon arriving at the holy site, the votant entered a new world that projected the fears and concerns of daily existence onto the holy place itself. As represented in Bavaria's pilgrimage books, the shrine was a protagonist, and its relics, images, and intercessions represented the battery of armaments with which the saint waged war against unbelief, sickness, accidents, and the devil.


The pilgrimage book thus reinforced the notion of geography as a "sacred landscape" divided into places of "hot" and "cold" spiritual power.[25] Text might extol the glories of a particular landscape, but in turn the landscape was itself a text on which Bavarians wrote stories that linked their rivers, mountains, and towns to the great events of the Bible and the history of the Church. In the process, topography often became submerged in service to the greater demands of the locus sanctus .

In 1678, for instance, the Bavarian Jesuit Benigno Kyhler published a book called Miraculous Mirror of Divine Miracles from the Old and New Testament , a collection of miracle stories intended for edification.26 Before telling the biblical tales, however, Kyhler discussed the geography of Bavaria. It was not the duchy's mountains, towns, or streams that he summoned up to describe the Bavarian realm, however; rather, Kyhler focused on her shrines, specifically the most important places of Marian pilgrimage, to demarcate the duchy's space. Instead of natural boundaries, castles, and walls, these were the territory's most important defenses, for here Mary ruled as a celestial "duchess," protecting the land from every kind of evil. For Kyhler, Bavaria was the "Holy Land" of Europe, a place where the march of time was suspended and the biblical story was being continually reenacted. That he should associate Bavaria with the Holy Land was not mere poetic license or rhetoric, for thanks to the enthusiastic promotion by Counter-Reformation propagandists of legends about shrines, the territory had been made more holy than it had ever been before.

Although pilgrimage book authors often offered ingenuous, imposing, and even fanciful defenses for their cults, their bravado could not mask the lasting impact of the Reformation. The Protestant challenge appeared in these works as a breach and had to be explained to the Counter-Reformation audience. Pilgrimage thus emerges, to use their own terminology, as a medicine to be applied to heal this fracture. To support the renewal of shrines and to cure a


landscape that had been badly battered by the "disease" of Protestantism, they created salving legends drawn from their own religious universe. These legends, moreover, were consciously packed with images of religion as crusade and of the saints and their shrines engaged in an ongoing struggle against indifference and "godlessness." The propagandists then applied these stories to an everincreasing number and variety of sites. For counter-reformers, the contemporary crisis was but the continuation of battles that had been waged since the days of the early Church, and Bavaria's shrines were the "silent preacher" or testimony to this tradition. This polemical defense of shrines and pilgrimage thus involved both a dissolution of the present and the denial of apocalyptic hope for the future. For it was largely a past that always repeated itself in episodic images, rediscoveries, and saintly intercessions that served to justify the enduring lure of the locus sanctus .

These attempts to create and inhabit a mythical past were clearly an important factor in the amazing refloresence of pilgrimage that occurred in early modern Bavaria. In this process of renewal, the pilgrimage cults of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries often grew to limits far beyond those of their medieval antecedents, as the voluminous manuscript miracle books of many local shrines testify. In these documents, wonders continued to be recorded in terms of the relationship of exchange between saintly patron and the faithful common to the medieval world. Indeed, these perceptions survive in the late twentieth century, not as some kind of residual carryover, but as a dynamic part of Bavarians' daily religion. Pilgrimage, in short, has been far more a modern than a medieval phenomenon.

The creativity of the counter-reformers—especially their ability to adapt and conflate older cultural forms and practices—reveals, too, the manifold ways in which they granted shrines and peregrination a new preeminence within the Catholic faith. Their success in controlling Bavaria's resurgent pilgrimages, however, was not complete. Despite the disavowals of ecclesiastical leaders like the bishop of Freising, spontaneously produced cults such as that at Taxa continued to spring up. The bishop, as we saw, had attacked that shrine's legend even in the packaging given it by the pious and unquestionably orthodox preacher Sancta Clara. But still the pilgrimage to Taxa persisted, even into modern times. Bavaria's ecclesiastical officials and counter-reforming propagandists continued to


face the same paradox that had existed in medieval times: they might labor to nurture some cults and to discredit, even prohibit, others, but Bavaria's pilgrims retained the ultimate rights of ownership over the peregrinational network.

However, like the celebrations of Corpus Christi, which grew to be amazingly popular in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Bavaria, the rituals of pilgrimage in fact demonstrated a general appropriation of ideas first articulated by the Bavarian clergy. At many shrines, for example, the ancient practice of the Umritt , a ritualized horse procession, came to dominate the pious displays of the laity. The Ottonian emperors had first used these equine journeys to collect pledges of obedience from their subjects.[27] In the later Middle Ages, Lionel Rothkrug suggests, these processions became linked in Bavaria and South Germany generally with the idea of crusade, and Umritte were undertaken to shrines of the Bleeding Host. In addition, equine processions appear to have been mounted to insure the fertility and protection of the land.[28] During the Counter-Reformation all of these strains came together, and Bavarians joined Umritte to relic and Marian cults as well. The region now became, as certain Austrian folklorists have picturesquely quipped, "a land exceedingly rejoicing in Umritte ."[29]

That the association of these processions with crusade and purification rites lingered can hardly be doubted, for it was in the Innviertel —that triangular parcel of land in southeastern Bavaria where the shrine of Altötting was the most imposing cultural monument and where Protestantism had gained a strong foothold in the sixteenth century—that Umritte multiplied most profusely.[30] The relationship between Protestantism and the proliferation of Umritte is clear, for in these ceremonies men on horseback celebrated the triumph over heresy and unbelief and sought protection from pollution, just as Catholic propagandists advocated people do in their


pilgrimage books. In addition, Umritte , like the numerous legends celebrated in early modern Bavaria that linked particular shrines to great events in biblical and Church history, joined these journeys' destinations to an imposing historical incident: the Crusades. Thus these processions brought specific shrines into the mainstream of Christian history and, in turn, sacralized the landscape by linking the present-day situation with verifiable episodes of Christian triumph.

Umritte grew to incredible heights of popularity in Bavaria during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1756, for instance, over seven thousand horsemen took part in the Umritt to the shrine at Scheyern.[31] While these events were both festive and pious, they taught that Bavaria and her shrines were in need of constant protection and purification. Like twelfth-century Crusaders who rescued the Holy Sepulcher from the infidels or sixteenth-century Catholic burghers who wrested sacred images from the hands of Protestants, participants in the Umritte were also a cavalry that aimed to guard the holy landscape from the onslaughts of heretics and Satan.

The numerous Umritte , holy places, and saints' cults that appeared in Bavaria from the late sixteenth century through the eighteenth seized on an imagery redolent with appeals to ordeal and crusade, propitiation and purification. At the locus sanctus , heaven and earth joined and time was compressed into a present that was the embodied past. For the thousands of pilgrims who visited these sites, miracles rather than legends remained the enduring testimony to these truths of geographical specificity and suspended time. Records of wonders provide us a glimpse of the mounting popularity of local shrines in early modern Bavaria. Between 1650 and 1680, scribes at Bettbrunn recorded an average of fourteen miracles each year; a century later, the totals had swelled to almost a thousand intercessions annually. This was not an isolated incident,[32] and by the eighteenth century the Bavarian clergy was often unable to cope with the peregrinational flood they had unleashed. At Neukirchen bei Heilig Blut, the Franciscan protectors struggled to keep up with all the pilgrims to the site, who in some years


numbered as many as eighty thousand.[33] Around 1700, officials of the dioceses of Regensburg and Passau, in an attempt to deal with the very success of the revival of pilgrimage, forbade a number of parishes from conducting processions to local shrines. As one official explained, "So many pilgrimages are held annually that in many places worship and preaching can be conducted [in parishes] during the summer on only a few Sundays."[34] Bavaria, it would seem, had finally assumed the identity first crafted for it by clerical propagandists: it was now mobilized around those sacred sites that perpetuated the traditions of salvific history.


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