Portals to heaven
The Stavelot Triptych was created between 1156-1158 by the Mosan school of the Meuse Valley in what is now Belgium. This reliquary triptych is unique in that it is a combination of three triptychs into one. The largest of the three triptychs is of Mosan creation and holds two smaller, previously made Byzantine triptychs acquired in Constantinople by the triptych’s patron Abbot Wibald of Stavelot. This thesis views The Stavelot Triptych in a new light, specifically in the context of meditative pilgrimage and medieval materiality. The first chapter argues that the triptych serves as a portal to Jerusalem, providing worshipers with a meditative pilgrimage experience. This argument focuses on the abundance of doors within the triptych and the imagery contained throughout it. In placing these two aspects in dialogue, it becomes evident that the triptych is divided into distinct liminal spaces engineered to draw worshipers deeper into the mystery of the crucifixion of Christ on Calvary and place them at the foot of the cross in Jerusalem, the earthly Heaven. The second chapter argues that the access provided by the triptych as a portal to Jerusalem extends beyond the earthly Kingdom of God to the Heavenly Kingdom of God. Through a discussion of the materiality of the triptych—more specifically how the materials chosen in its construction mirror the textual account of Heaven in the Book of Revelation—and the medieval understanding of materials affording access to divinity, The Stavelot Triptych will be further situated as a portal to Heaven, the inaccessible realm of the Divine.