Skip to main content

Students plan a four-month “medieval pilgrimage” in France

They are raising money for technical equipment to record videos and organize talks about their journey through

In the upcoming spring semester, ten students of the history of art at the MU Faculty of Arts will experience an unusual kind of learning. Starting from Lausanne together with their teacher Ivan Foletti, they will go on a four-month journey modelled on medieval pilgrimages. To be able to record their journey, they have started a fundraiser on Indiegogo.

If they raise enough money, their journey will produce twelve short films as well as live broadcasts of lectures by experts they meet along the way.

An outline of the journey, even though it is still a long way off, has already been drafted. Foletti and ten students, who will write their diploma theses on French cultural heritage, are to set out in March and finish their journey in June. The pilgrims will alternate three-week periods of walking with spending another three weeks in monasteries to work on the sources they gathered on the way. The journey includes Geneva, Lyon, Conques, Nevers, Fleury, Tours, and Rennes.

The journey of the students and their teacher is modelled on journeys that were at their peak from the 11th through 13th centuries and were an important cultural phenomenon that changed the Church, the arts and the whole of Europe. Medieval pilgrims also used monasteries as resting places and were readily admitted, since they endowed monasteries liberally after finishing their journey. In this way, the fortune of monasteries significantly increased, as they received money and land at home and abroad.

Video from Indiegogo (in multiple languages)

However, as Foletti explains, the main goal of the study tour is to learn to see works of art in a different way: “When you look at a medieval object, you always do so from your current position. We would like to try and go back to the medieval era and see the art and the surrounding landscape at the slower and, in a way, more ‘medieval’ pace of a pilgrim. These days, we are only used to seeing things up close and looking at them quickly.” Besides teaching at MU, Foletti is also active at the University of Lausanne and has taught in Padova, Napoli, or Poitiers as well. In this way, he was able to establish contact with renowned experts who will give lectures to the Czech group as it stops in monasteries.

A special study plan has been made for the students who will go on the journey, so that they can keep up with their course load. The lectures they will attend on their journey will also be available to the students back home and to art enthusiasts in general. The participants are now raising funds through in a campaign that will run until 31 November to ensure that the recordings are of the highest possible quality.