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Enjoy Maps? Learn About the Mappa Mundi

Mappa Mundi

The O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library invites the St. Thomas community to a noon-hour brown bag lunch and presentation of a facsimile of the Hereford Mappa Mundi, a map of the world made in approximately 1285. It is the largest medieval map known to still exist and features Jerusalem as the center of the world. The original is on display at Hereford Cathedral in Hereford, England. This facsimile was a gift to the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library from John O’Shaughnessy, a grandson of St. Thomas benefactor I.A. O’Shaughnessy.

The presentation will be begin at noon Tuesday, Dec. 4, in the O’Shaughnessy Room (Room 108) on the main floor of the OSF Library.  Beverages and treats will be provided; bring your own lunch if you wish.  For more information email Julie Kimlinger.

A “mappa mundi” is any medieval map of the world. These maps were not intended to be used for navigation, or even to show the relative areas of land and water, but rather to illustrate different principles – much like graphical encyclopedias of medieval knowledge. The maps can be seen as religious world views, art objects, historical objects and, of course, as maps.

A panel of St.Thomas professors will talk about the map from their areas of expertise: Ken Snyder, School of Divinity, will speak on the theological messages depicted, putting them into context with what was going on in Europe during the time; Shelley-Nordtorp-Madson, Art History, will speak about the artistic nature of the map and its shape shifters; Bob Werner, Geography, will talk about it as what it is: an early map of the entire world; Ann Brodeur, Medieval History, will speak about medieval pilgrimage; and Marty Warren, English, will talk about how the maps operate with the underlying understanding that human life itself is a kind of pilgrimage, as seen in Chaucer’s “The Man of Law’s Tale.”

mappa mundi panel

Accompanying introduction and commentary volumes for this piece are available in the library’s Special Collections department. See our guide to the Mappa Mundi for more information.

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