Holy Roman Empire

Overwhelmed by some fun pictures and pertinent comment at NCR Online, Far From Rome, Enlightened Catholicism, Bilgrimage and probably more to come, I have nothing original to say, so simply add more pics and some words from Wikipedia (Oh, there’s also a question!):

1. ) Holy Roman Empire, 962 – 1806

The Holy Roman Empire (Latin: Imperium Romanum Sacrum (IRS)) was a union of territories in Central Europe during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period under a Holy Roman Emperor. The first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was Otto I, crowned in 962. The last was Francis II, who abdicated and dissolved the Empire in 1806……..It was also officially known as the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (Wikipedia)

Holy Roman Emperor Louis the Pious.

Holy Roman Emperor Louis the Pious


Robe of Hply Roman Emperor Henry II, IIth Century

Robe of Hply Roman Emperor Henry II, IIth Century

2) Look familiar?

Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

Imposing_the_Cardinal's_Berretta

Imposing the Cardinal's Berretta

Further Reading:

Priesthood: Medieval Mythmaking

Duffy, E: Saints and Sinners (A history of the Papacy)

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2 Responses to “Holy Roman Empire”

  1. William Lindsey Says:

    Terry, I really like this posting. It’s a very good visual depiction of the roots of some RC liturgical garb. I think it will help folks realize that most of the liturgical garments used in the RC liturgy are adaptations of clothes worn by officials in the Roman empire. To a great extent, the church continues the empire even now–and that’s one of the problems the church needs to confront, its strange attempt to wed this imperial heritage with the gospel.

    • queeringthechurch Says:

      Bill, I am convinced that a better understanding of church history is key to understanding the contradictions we are seeing. The impression I have is that church history is one of gradually expanding temporal power paralleling the rise of secular empires: the historian Norman Davies in his excellent tome on European history describes in detail the moment when the then pope crossed the Alps to meet up with the French king Pippin, thus inaugurating both the primacy of the papacy (in the west) and the Holy Roman Empire. I am currently reading Eamonn Duffy’s Saints & Sinners. For the first 12 centuries at least this reads more like a political history than a spiritual one, with constant struggle for power between church factions, and between church and state.

      These parallels should not be surprising. What is odd though, is that just as the secular world began to unwind from large autocratic empires, the church was moving in the other direction, with the first Vatican Council responding to a secular democratic mood by entrenching central control and by reversing centuries of tradition to insist on the then new ideas of papal infallibility.

      Tom McMahon says that the culture and governance of the priesthood at least is stuck in the middle ages. I think that this applies to the entire establishment culture: these pictures were designed to show how appropriate McMahon’s comparison really is. The clothing reveals not just the liturgical thhinking, but the entire ecclesiastical mindset.


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