A Paradise of Priests

A Paradise of Priests

Singing the Civic and Episcopal Hagiography of Medieval Liège

Catherine Saucier


University of Rochester Press



Embraces an all-encompassing interdisciplinary methodology to uncover the symbiosis of saintly and civic ideals in music, rituals, and hagiographic writing celebrating the origins and identity of a major clerical center.
Medieval Liège was the seat of a vast diocese in northwestern Europe and a city of an exceptional number of churches, clergymen, and church musicians. Recognized as a priestly paradise, the city accommodated as many Masses each day as Rome. In this volume, musicologist Catherine Saucier examines the music of religious worship in Liège and reveals within the liturgy and ritual a civic function by which local clerics promoted the holy status of their city. Analyzing hagiographic and historical writings, religious art, and sung ceremonies relevant to the city's genesis, destruction, and eventual rebirth, Saucier uncovers richly varied ways in which liégeois clergymen fused music with text, image, and ritual to celebrate the city's sacred episcopal origins and saintly persona.
A Paradise of Priests forges new interdisciplinary connections between musicology, the liturgical arts, the cult of saints, church history, and urban studies, and is an essential resource for scholars and students interested in the history of the Low Countries, hagiography and its reception, and ecclesiastical institutions.

Catherine Saucier is assistant professor of music history at Arizona State University.


May 2014
3 colour, 2 black and white, 14 line illustrations
316 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580464802
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS048010, REL015000, POL002000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Sound of Civic Sanctity in the Priestly Paradise of Liège
Martyred Bishops and Civic Origins: Promoting the Clerical City
The Intersecting Cults of Saints Theodard and Lambert: Validating Bishops as Martyrs
The Civic Cult of Saint Hubert: Venerating Bishops as Founders
Clerical Concord, Disharmony, and Polyphony: Commemorating Bishop Notger's City
Military Triumph, Civic Destruction, and the Changing Face of Saint Lambert's Relics: Invoking the Defensor patriae
Conclusion: Hearing Civic Sanctity
Appendix: Medieval Service Books Preserving the Chant Repertory Sung in the City of Liège


The culmination of more than a decade of careful archival and analytical work about the music and culture of Liège (in modern Belgium). Demonstrates how music, hagiography, and civic identity were intimately intertwined in Liège during the late Middle Ages. A particularly useful volume because of the music transcriptions and translations of chant texts, many of which are not available in the Cantus Index. Balances thorough archival work with analysis of music and text. MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NOTES

Because of its broad scope, clear organization, and accessible style, this rich book will be of service not only to musicologists but also to scholars of liturgy, hagiography, church history, and urban history. CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW

Weaves a compelling narrative centred on the lives of Liège's founder-bishops as celebrated in the hagiography, art, rituals and music made, enacted and re-enacted by the medieval clerical population of Liège. An expert examination of an impressively vast array of sources -- including archival, liturgical, artistic and hagiographic. A must-read for anyone interested in how one might locate the fashioning of a city's image in the extant remains of story, art, music and ritual. EARLY MUSIC

An impeccably organized and elegantly crafted discussion of the previously under-appreciated liturgical materials of medieval Liège, and an enlightening study of the interrelations between liturgical chants and the civic culture in which they existed and which they sought to uphold. It serves as a model of how a study of localized liturgy should be treated, and as a valuable resource for those interested in the ecclesiastical history of the city (it includes a helpful handlist of chant books from the diocese of Liège, to encourage further attention). MUSIC & LETTERS

Saucier's A Paradise of Priests represents a substantial achievement in a number of fields, including medieval and Renaissance musicology, urban history, and church history. The book's readable style will make it accessible to students as well as to scholars and teachers. A seamless and compelling narrative. --Susan Boynton, Columbia University

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