1318 Procession from the (former) Porte Saint-Denis to Saint-Magloire

One of the most visible ways that women interacted with their urban environments and members of the populace was to participate in processions, events where large crowds came together to watch, pray, sing, and move through the streets in public. One reads in a dramatic account by the Chronicler of Saint-Magliore that Queen Clémence de Hongrie (1293–1328), Queen Jeanne de Bourgogne et Artois (1292–1330), Blanche de Bretagne (1271–1327), Mahaut d’Artois (1268–1329), and Pernelle de Sully, Countess de Dreux (c. 1285–1338) participated in a solemn procession on July 9, 1318. Torrential rains had ruined crops and washed out roads and bridges, and chroniclers recorded people starving in the streets. The procession began at the great Porte Saint-Denis, wound through streets decorated for the event along the rue Oues and then right down the rue Salle-au-Comte, entering Saint-Magloire through the cemetery in the back. The streets were decorated with textiles, and the chronicler describes hundreds of flickering candles, a visual atmosphere that transformed the streets of the city through sight, sound, and scent, creating a sacred space, an environment that shared as much with conceptions of heaven as it did with earth. The pace was slow with stops along the route to sing and pray. Clerics transferred the arm bone of Saint Magloire from an older wooden reliquary to a beautiful new silver-gilt one, and then as the highlight of the ritual, the women each offered gifts like jeweled and enameled clasps, lush textiles, and silver-gilt lamps upon the altar. Such public gift giving had the benefit of setting these wealthy women apart from the masses, but it also enabled them to cast themselves as unifying leaders of the people, interjecting themselves as symbolic representatives of the city. It was not uncommon for religious leaders to summon the necessary crowds to watch a procession to see the women’s gifts. In 1318, priests promised indulgences for those who attended the procession. But then when the devout arrived, guards kept the masses at bay. Summoning the crowds and then pushing them back in this way visually amplified the impression of frenzy around the procession, increasing its importance.

Saint-Magloire present-day location: 88 Rue Saint Denis