Monks set fire to cathedral to create top tourist attraction


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Within the 12th century, saints have been an enormous vacationer draw to the cities of Britain, and the cathedral with the most well-liked saint and most engaging interiors drew probably the most pilgrims, who got here to hope for cures for sicknesses and different miracles. Whereas they have been there, they typically purchased trinkets within the cathedral store, and gave choices.


Dr Wells defined: “They constructed up these type of theme park-type vacationer sights for the medieval period.”

Durham and Canterbury have been the 2 hottest for pilgrims on the time, as Durham had St Cuthbert as its saint, who was one of the vital well-known of the day.

Nonetheless, when St Thomas Becket was murdered inside Canterbury Cathedral, pilgrims swarmed to the touch the ground the place his blood was spilt after he was canonised three years later.

This induced the monks at Durham Cathedral to develop their constructing because of this, beginning a “magnificence race” between the 2 cities.

Dr Wells stated: “The nearer you have been to a saint or his relics, notably the place he died, the extra probably it could be there can be a solution to your prayers. Due to this fact a rivalry began, as Canterbury had one of the best saint, one of the best martyrdom, as its saint truly died inside its partitions. Durham determined to develop their cathedral because of this.

Durham cathedral.

Durham cathedral.Credit score:Alamy

“For the subsequent good few hundred years, when Canterbury added to their constructing, Durham expanded once more,” added Dr Wells.

On the afternoon of Thursday September 5, 1174, a hearth ripped by means of Archbishop Anselm’s “Wonderful Choir” at Canterbury Cathedral, making room for the constructing of an enormous and exquisite crypt for Thomas Becket, which pilgrims might go to and admire.

It seems too fortunate to be a coincidence, Dr Wells stated, given the timing of the fireplace and the way it began. She believes it was most likely set by monks who have been attempting to make their cathedral extra lovely than Durham’s.

She has found accounts of the fireplace in writings from monks on the time.

“What’s very attention-grabbing is the timing. Becket died in 1170 and was canonised in 1173, the fireplace befell in 1174, not even a 12 months following the truth that he turns into a saint. As soon as somebody turns into a saint, you need pilgrims by means of the doorways.

“The best way the fireplace begins may be very attention-grabbing. A monk inside the cathedral tells us that the fireplace began in some timber framed homes across the cathedral and the flames blew over. It is just a bit bit too excellent timing as a result of because of this they construct this magnificent new shrine for St Thomas Becket, these lovely home windows depicting St Thomas Becket throughout his life.

“So it is a little bit bit too excellent, the actual fact they will construct this magnificent new construction after he was canonised. So was it arson or a coincidence?”

She concludes, “I consider it may very well be arson.”

The Telegraph, London

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