Holy Time Exhibition

I am delighted to share the (digital version of the) exhibition Holy Time: Martyrologies and Calendars Through the Ages with you. I had the great pleasure of putting this together in the autumn of 2017, with the help of the wonderful Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin, from the Trinity College Manuscripts and Archives department, and Sharon Sutton and Caoimhe Whelan, the resident photographers at Trinity’s Digital Resources and Imaging Services department. I also gratefully acknowledge support from the Long Room Hub Research Incentive Scheme, allowing me to make the local exhibition available in digital format. Enjoy!

Trinity Long Room Library, January 2018

A common denominator of all history, chronology and future planning is the need to organize time in a meaningful way – the need for a calendar (from Latin calendarium ‘account book’). For the Christian calendar, the calculation of Easter is essential, as it determines the date of most of the major feast days of the liturgical year. In the early Middle Ages the calendars in which these dates were planned out also began to be used for recording the feast days and deaths of martyrs, saints and members of the community. The kind of record, which often took on a  much more narrative form, or developed into a long list of names, is called a martyrology (from ‘martyr’).

The codices selected for this exhibition contain ecclesiastical calendars and martyrologies from the medieval period, primarily from the Trinity collections and primarily focused on the Insular world (though many more could be added). The objectives of the exhibition are two-fold. It explains some of the basic features of these texts and their development from a chronological perspective, while simultaneously contextualizing the differences between various texts and codices in light of the divisions in Irish society resulting from the Anglo-Norman conquest. The phrase ‘two churches’ is sometimes used to refer to the ecclesiastical sources of the post-conquest period; this exhibition juxtaposes examples from each by placing them in their joint geographical and cultural framework.

The digital counterpart of this exhibition has a permanent home on the Trinity College Library page and on a dedicated website: Holy Time.


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