Book Series Architectura Medii Aevi, vol. 4

Real Presence: Sacrament Houses and the Body of Christ, c. 1270-1600

Achim Timmermann

  • Pages: xvi + 442 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:381 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2010

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53012-3
  • Paperback
  • Available


"Timmermann's book is a serious contribution to the study of the dynamics between theology, liturgics, popular piety, and architecture. Perhaps its greatest strength, apart from simply presenting us with a detailed study of this largely unexplored but significant architectural typology, is the wealth of photos and drawings (381 illustrations), many of them from his own camera. This should be a valuable resource for students and practitioners of ecclesiastical architecture, as we reexamine the precedents of our architectural traditions to find new ways of expressing the sacramental reality that informed the great medieval and Renaissance sacrament towers." (Steven J. Schroeder, on the website of  The Institute for Sacred Architecture:


This is the first comprehensive book on the architecture and imagery of late medieval sacrament houses, those dazzlingly complex microarchitectural structures designed for the paraliturgical reservation and display of the eucharistic and ‘real present’ body of Christ. The study is embedded in a discussion of sacramental theology and devotion, and traces the development of this genre of furnishing from the introduction of the Corpus Christi feast in 1264 to the first decades of the Counter-Reformation, from the Low Countries to Hungary and the Saxon settlements of Transylvania, from the Swedish island of Gotland to the Swiss Canton of Graubünden. Much of the argument is devoted to such major sacrament houses as those in Leuven’s Pieterskerk (1450) or St. Lorenz in Nuremberg (1493-6), though provincial solutions like the dugout tabernacles of the Brandenburg Marches are equally considered. The book is intended as a contribution to the study of both Gothic microarchitecture and the role of the visual in late medieval devotional culture.


Achim Timmermann teaches art history at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research interests cover late medieval art and architecture, with particular focus on microarchitecture and the visual stage-management of the body of Christ.