Sandals of Jesus Christ
The ‘Sandals of Jesus’ displayed in Prüm Abbey in Germany
The Sandals of Jesus Christ were among the most important relics of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. They were donated to Prüm Abbey by Pope Zachary (741–752) and Pope Stephen II (752–757).
The sandals are the remains of an ornate fabric shoe (slipper) allegedly from the Merovingian period (5th to 8th centuries), which were given to the Abbey by Rome in the Carolingian period (7th to 9th centuries).
They are considered to be among the most notable of the many relics of the church; they are mentioned by Pepin the Short in the deed of 762, and he is said to have received them from Rome as a gift of Pope Zachary (741–752) and Pope Stephen II (752–757). Pope Zachary had recognized Pepin’s election as king, and Pope Stephen II completed the gift in 754. Apart from its religious significance, the relic was the physical embodiment of the Frankish king’s legitimation by the church.
Pepin managed the expansion of the small Prüm Abbey over 30 years, leaving it as a huge property named Saint Salvador (Holy Saviour), the favourite monastery of the Carolingian dynasty, which was legitimized by the relic.
The possession of important relics was a means of sustaining church influence and status. In order to compete with a powerful abbey it was important to acquire relics of similar provenance and significance. In the 12th Century the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trier became increasingly powerful and obtained a robe thought to belong to Jesus. Called the Seamless robe of Jesus, it was seen as more significant than the sandals. Over the following four centuries, Trier won the power struggle against Prüm and by 1524 had become the major pilgrimage destination. In 1574, Prüm became subordinated to Trier.
This artifact is a part of SwordTemple Library