A Tomb for All Seasons: The Cenotaph of Saint Audomarus at Saint-Omer and the Performative Mutability of Art in the Late Middle Ages
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The sculpted cenotaph of Saint Audomarus, bishop of Thérouanne, at the collegiate church of Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais) is a thirteenth-century monument that defies easy categorization. Although hitherto thought to have functioned as a display case for Audomarus's relics on his feast days, formal analysis and copious archival documentation suggest that its true primary function was protecting, enhancing, and promoting the cult at the saint's burial place. Nevertheless, and apparently unusually for a work of this kind, the cenotaph's main function was overridden during Easter Week, when it was converted into the church's Easter sepulcher and served as a focal point for liturgical performance. Given that this temporary transformation was achieved not only through ritual, but also through conspicuous (if transitory) visual manipulation, this article raises the question of the mutability of late medieval ecclesiastical art in response to the changing needs of the liturgical calendar, challenging the neat classification schemes traditionally espoused by formalist art history.