André Vauchez


Premio Balzan 2013 per la Storia del Medioevo

Progetto di ricerca

The Cult of Saints in the West in the Latter Centuries of the Middle Ages, Research on Shrines and Religious Life in France and Italy

André Vauchez is Professeur émérite d’histoire du Moyen Âge at the Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre. The second half of his 2013 Balzan Prize in Medieval History is devoted to the endowment of the Fondation André Vauchez pour le développement des recherches en histoire religieuse du Moyen Âge, established under the aegis of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in Paris in 2014. It has the aim of assisting researchers in carrying out their projects and advancing their scientific programmes. It can also provide financial assistance for young researchers under thirty-five years of age who are engaged in doctoral or postdoctoral research. Several projects are currently underway: editing texts related to the religious history of the Middle Ages (thirteenth-fifteenth century); research on sanctuaries and religious life in France and in Italy; publication of works related to religious life and culture in the Middle Ages.

Among the scientific projects that the André Vauchez Foundation has decided to support, some are already well advanced, whereas others have experienced difficulties in getting off to a timely start due to administrative or financial issues.

1) Funds for Publication

The publication of André Vauchez’s work entitled Les vies et le culte de S. Homebon de Crémone (XIIe-XXe siècle) came out in Brussels in 2018. The French translation of the Latin lives of this patron saint of tailors was overseen by Véronique Souche- Hazebrouck, and Laura Albiero assisted with the chapter on the liturgical sources of the cult of St. Homobonus.

Byzance et l’Europe. L’héritage historiographique d’Evelyne Patlagean, edited by Claudine Delacroix-Besnier, was published by l’EHESS (Centre d’études byzantines et néo-helléniques) with the help of the Foundation at the end of 2016. The Foundation also provided financial assistance to Éditions Droz for the publication of a collection of studies by Nicole Bériou entitled Religion et communication : un autre regard sur la prédication au Moyen Âge, published in 2018.

In 2015, thanks to contributions from the Foundation, the volume by Immacolata Aulisa (University of Bari), Les Juifs dans les récits chrétiens du Moyen Âge, was published by CNRS Editions, as was a collection of studies by Geneviève Hasenohr (IRHT-CNRS) entitled Textes de dévotion et lectures spirituelles en langue romane (France, XIIe-XVIe siècle) was published by Brepols.

2) Funds for Editing Texts and Document

Damien Ruiz has finished his revision of the Sermons of the French Cardinal Hugues de Châteauroux, which should be edited by Alexis Charansonnet (Université de Lyon II), who is also at work on the introduction. Ruiz also recently published his critical edition of the Opera omnia of Hugh of Digne, a Franciscan from Provence, in the series of the International Society of Franciscan Studies in Assisi (La vie et l’oeuvre de Hugues de Digne, Spoleto: CISAM, 2018).

3) Funds for Colloquia and Seminars

The colloquium organized by the Société d’Histoire de l’Eglise de France to honour the memory of the great historian Marc Venard, specialist on religious life in France in the sixteenth century, was held at the Université de Paris-Ouest-Nanterre and in Rouen in October 2016. (I. Poutrin, C. Vincent eds., Marc Venard historien, Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2019).

The international colloquium “Mise(s) en œuvre des Ecritures”, organized by the universities Sorbonne Nouvelle and Paris-Sorbonne with the cooperation of the École biblique in Jerusalem was held in Paris on 5 and 6 December 2016.The international colloquium “Observer l’Observance” organised by Ludovic Viallet, Sylvie Duval and Haude Morvan was held at the Université de Clermont-Ferrand in June 2017 to launch a research programme dedicated to different “observant” currents in Western Christianity between the fourteenth century and the end of the sixteenth century.

The international colloquium organized by Jacques Dalarun, “Le manuscrit franciscain retrouvé”, was held at the École des Chartes and at IRHT from 20 to 22 September 2017. The manuscript, recently acquired by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (NAL 3245), contains an unknown life of St. Francis by Thomas de Celano, recently edited by J. Dalarun, as well as a long, totally unknown commentary on the Pater noster which, if not the work of St. Francis of Assisi, is certainly by someone very close to him.

The international colloquium “Judaïsme et christianisme au Moyen Âge”, organized by Anne-Marie Vannier, Professor of Catholic Theology at the Université de Lorraine, was held at the University of Metz on 18 and 19 October 2017. This meeting centred on the work of Israël Yuval, author of Deux peuples en ton sein, which won the 2014 Prix Bernheim pour l’Histoire des Religions, and Gilbert Dahan. Both scholars participated.

The Foundation also granted a subsidy to Marie-Madeleine de Cevins, Professor at the Université de Rennes II, and to Olivier Marin, Professor at the Université de Paris XIII, to assist them in holding a seminar entitled “Les saints et leur culte en Europe centrale au Moyen Âge”, which was held at the École Normale Supérieure between October 2016 and May 2017. It enabled them to pay for the travel of researchers invited from Central and Eastern European countries.

4) Research Programmes

Research under the direction of Catherine Vincent (Université de Paris-Ouest- Nanterre) and her collaborators with the aim of compiling an inventory on sanctuaries and pilgrimage sites in France in the Middle Ages (Inventaire des sanctuaires et lieux de pèlerinage en France à l’époque médiévale) is well underway after three years of work, but its achievement was delayed by IT problems which have recently been resolved. About 100 entires for sanctuaries have been compiled and registered.

The investigation unites two universities, conservators, art historians and archaeologists. Contacts have been established with the Mertens Institut in the Netherlands, and with the Centro di studi sui santuari medievali under the direction of Professor Giorgio Otranto at the University of Bari and at Monte Sant’Angelo in northern Apulia. In 2016/17, the French study was extended to a growing number of dioceses. Each sanctuary was indexed as follows: the object of veneration, the legends and miracles attributed to it and previous and present-day practices. Around thirty sanctuaries per diocese are included. The study is not limited to famous pilgrimages or those that have stood the test of time, in order to capture this specific way of religious life in the broadest manner possible.

The research programme on Sanctuaires et espaces sacrés de la Sabine et de la région de Rieti à l’époque médiévale et moderne made rapid progress in the course of the past year under the guidance of Professors Sofia Boesch Gajano and Umberto Longo of the History Department at La Sapienza University in Rome. Thanks to funding from Professor Vauchez’s project, two scholars were recruited to do research and record cults and sanctuaries in the area under consideration. In collaboration with the IT Department at La Sapienza, a historical atlas on cult places has been undertaken in the form of an online platform where all of the historical and geographical information is collected in a database. The project is well underway and has produced a draft of digitalised cartography of sanctuaries in the Sabine region and in the area around Rieti in 2019 (htpp:/ Already the cult stratifications brought out by long-term research have shown the dynamics of ecclesiastical institutions (in particular, the major role of the Abbey of Farfa in that area) and of the religious orders (above all, the Franciscans in the Province of Rieti). In this respect, an interesting colloquium on the Franciscan settlements in the Rieti region was held in May 2017 in Greccio. The deplorable destruction by the 2016 earthquake has devastated the region between Umbria and the Marches, including several small sanctuaries located in the mountainous regions which have not yet been studied, thus indicating how urgent the need for this survey is. It is remarkable how this research programme has raised unanimous support from territorial collectives and local ecclesiastical authorities, as well as pronounced interest on the part of the local population.

A symposium was held in Rome by the French and the Italian research groups working on medieval and modern sanctuaries (“Luoghi sacri e storia del territorio. Appunti metodologici e strumenti di ricerca”, November 2018). Both groups decided to apply together for a European ITN grant (Innovative Training Network) in 2020.

An agreement was signed with CIHAM (CNRS-Université de Lyon II) in order to draw up an online atlas, the Atlas de la Thébaïde en ligne, under the direction of Alessandra Malquori (Florence), Cécile Caby (Université de Lyon II) and Nicole Bériou (IRHT- CNRS) at the beginning of 2017. This project has the aim of assembling a base of knowledge providing access to figurative themes in representations of hermits in the Tuscan Tebaide in connection with other documents (manuscripts and manuscript illumination, the Bible and its commentaries, moral and spiritual texts). A prototype associating texts and images on this theme and on hermetic life is being created with the help of a computer scientist. It was presented in Paris in December 2017 by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.

Les procès de canonisation médiévaux inédits dans l’espace français is a research programme directed by André Vauchez calling for the publication of a certain number of medieval canonisation processes concerning French saints that have remained entirely or partially unpublished and that should be made available to researchers. In this context, Luc Ferrier, project engineer at the École des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, is nearing the end of his work on editing the canonisation process for Philippe Berruyer, archbishop of Bourges (†1261), which was held from 1265 to 1266, and prolonged until 1331. The document is first-rate for the religious history of France in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, as it relates to a bishop saint that the Bollandistes ranked among the praetermissi (individuals left out) of the Acta sanctorum, which means that he has remained almost unknown, even though he played an important role in the entourage of St. Louis and the religious life of Berry.

Laurent Héry, specialist in history, and Armelle Le Huérou, Doctor of Medieval Latin Literature, have undertaken the study and editing of the documents related to the process of canonisation for Charles de Blois, Duke of Brittany (†1364), housed in the Vatican Archives, where one part related to the local cult of the saint has remained unpublished.

5) New Research Programmes Submitted to the Foundation Board for Approval

Cécile Treffort, Professor of Medieval History at the Université de Poitiers and former director of CESCM, will complete an Inventaire épigraphique de la Gaule chrétienne (IIIe-IXe siècle), already begun in 1966 by Henri-Irénée Marrou. Three volumes were published, but work stopped in 1997. The inventory should be completed in two years. The work of Jean Guyon and Marc Heijmans has yielded a great deal of new material on Provence from Late Antiquity to the High Middle Ages, as has the thesis of Marianne Uberti, finished in 2014 under the direction of F. Baratte for Aquitaine. It will also be necessary to make an inventory of the working documents (photos, dossiers) already drawn up by their predecessors. Everything will be facilitated by the Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale at the Uuniversité de Poitiers, which has great experience in this field and which will see to retrieving existing data and compiling a systematic pre-inventory of Christian inscriptions in the ecclesiastical provinces that made up Gaul.

Martin Morard, in charge of research at CNRS, has procured an Edition électronique de la Glose de la Bible dite ordinaire, starting with the incunabulum edition of 1481, enriched with scientific annotations and notes. Around half of the text has already been worked on and a third (corresponding to the New Testament) has been revised and made available. Undoubtedly this will be a precious tool for researchers.

The number and quality of the applications addressed to the Foundation shows that it has taken its place among institutions to which researchers in the religious history of the Middle Ages turn to try to compensate for the insufficiency of research funds. It should also be noted that almost all of these programmes use advanced computer technology, which makes it possible for the historian to stay up to date with inputting and processing documentary sources.


  • Aulisa, Immacolata. Les Juifs dans les récits chrétiens du Moyen Âge. Paris: CNRS Editions, 2015.
  • Boesch Gajano, Sofia and Alvaro Cacciotti. “La memoria di Francesco. Sperimentazioni religiose nel territorio reatino-sabino (secc. XIII-XVII).” Frate Francesco. Rivista di cultura francescana, 1(2018): 7-179.
  • Delacroix-Besnier, Claudine, ed. Byzance et l’Europe. L’héritage historiographique Evelyne Patlagean. Actes du colloque international, Paris, 21-22 novembre 2011. Paris: EHESS, 2016.
  • Hasenohr, Geneviève. Textes de dévotion et lectures spirituelles en langue romane (France, XIIe-XVIe siècle). Turnhout: Brepols, 2016.
  • Ruiz, Damien. Ugo di Digna OFM, Opera omnia. Spoleto: CISAM, 2018 (Società internazionale di studi francescani, Assisi).
  • Vauchez, André. Saint Homebon de Crémone, “père des pauvres” et patron des tailleurs. Vie médiévales et histoire du culte. Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 2018. Subsidia hagiographica 96.