Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Although the study of medieval church graffiti inscriptions has a long pedigree, recent large-scale surveys have brought to light tens of thousands of previously unknown examples. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the new discoveries is the fact that the vast majority of these early graffiti, where intelligible, have been shown to have distinctly spiritual, devotional, or votive meaning. Whilst the most obvious of these take the form of prayers or invocations, sometimes written in the conventional Latin forms of the Orthodox Church, many others appear to have been created in non-traditional forms. Vast numbers of these early inscriptions appear to reflect aspects of lay piety and belief, having an apotropaic function, and represent a personal interaction between parishioner and the medieval church. Taken together they indicate that medieval graffiti were regarded as both accepted and acceptable forms of devotion.

Keywords: graffiti, medieval church, apotropaic, devotion, votive, belief, inscriptions, lay piety, ritual protection

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.