Examples of Medieval Pontifical Sandals

In a previous article, Pontifical Sandals: A Brief History and Consideration, we gave a general overview and historical consideration of liturgical "sandals" (i.e. shoes) that are traditionally worn by prelates within the context of liturgical tradition of the Latin rite.  We won't duplicate that history here of course, we shall  simply point our readers back to that article for a more general treatment of the subject. 

For our purposes today, we simply wish to present a few examples of episcopal sandalia coming from the medieval period specifically. While the sandals we are accustomed to seeing typically come from the modern period (i.e. from the eighteenth century onward), liturgical sandals are in fact ancient in usage. However, the further back in time one goes, the fewer the extant examples there are that have survived of course. Fortunately some have been preserved -- sometimes purposefully for reason of an important personage they are attached to, other times 'accidentally' preserved by virtue of being found still preserved in the tombs of medieval prelates when later excavated and exhumed. 

Our first example, which is dated to the twelfth century, is one such example of the latter. They were discovered in the nineteenth century preserved within a tomb within the cathedral of Saint-Front de Périgueux in France. They are thought to be of English or French manufacture, being made of silk and including decorative motifs that include vegetal and animal decoration. While the polychrome silks have had their colours fade, one can still yet gain a sense of their beauty. 

For our next set of medieval sandals, regrettably we do not have a specific date associated with these other than their being medieval and also found in France.  These particular sandals are coloured red and include vine like motifs that terminate in floral endings, include the stylized lily (fleur-de-lys). 

Next we have the so-called sandals of St. Malachy which are dated to the twelfth or thirteenth century. They were found in the treasury of Saint-Étienne cathedral in Châlons-en-Champagne. One will note the similarity of these to those found above in terms of their shape and decoration. 

The next sandals are those "of St. Germanus" --  a seventh century abbot.  The attribution for this particular set of sandalia, if historically accurate, would place them as being seventh century in age. One will note the small Greek cross that is present on the "tongue" of the sandal (lost on the second one).  By comparison with the bulkiness of the previous three examples, these are quite delicate in form and design. 

Last but not least we have the sandalia "of St. Desiderius," dated to the eighth century -- however there is some debate amongst scholars around this with some speculating that these may actually be from the twelfth century due to their similarity in style to the sandalia of that period. 

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