Gazing at death and the dead

Workshop report (by Linde Tuybens) The most dangerous person at a funeral is the body in the coffin –  Richard Cobb On May 5th and 6th, researchers from all over Europe and the USA met in Antwerp to explore a range of fascinating topics around death and the dead. An initiative of the Contested Bodies project, this workshopContinue reading “Gazing at death and the dead”

Send us your (early Christian) martyr

by Tine Van Osselaer I watch with eager anticipation as my guide is carefully opening a series of small doors. We are not unwrapping one layer after another, but sections of a single, bigger, display case.  The impact of the procedure is best compared to one of those visual puzzles. Every new piece gives youContinue reading “Send us your (early Christian) martyr”

Breathing life into a body

by Kristof Smeyers Here is a story. One evening a nun sneaks down into the vault under a chapel. She has been contemplating this all day. She shivers: she is a little cold and more than a little nervous. It’s around nine o’clock and she is alone, but she doesn’t feel alone. In the cornerContinue reading “Breathing life into a body”

Bodies on display. An alternative Roman Tour

By Leonardo Rossi Rome, bodies, (aspiration to) eternity. If these keywords arouse your interest, then you are reading the right post. Whether you are travelling with your imagination sitting on a cosy sofa or walking on the centuries-old cobblestones of Rome, this alternative tour throws you into popular Roman devotion, showing you stages unfamiliar toContinue reading “Bodies on display. An alternative Roman Tour”

Stigma

by Linde Tuybens As historians, we can’t claim the exclusive right to tell the story of stigmatics. Other cultural products – books, films, theatre plays – are also shining light on their extraordinary lives. Recently, news has spread that American filmmaker Abel Ferrara is preparing a film on the early life of Padre Pio, allegedlyContinue reading “Stigma”

Weighing the body

by Kristof Smeyers The time has come now, at last, to talk truth. Our research on stigmata doesn’t directly engage with the possibility of the wounds’ divine or supernatural nature. As cultural historians (albeit from different angles) our interest is in the stigmata’s meaning to people in the past rather than in trying to prove or disprove,Continue reading “Weighing the body”

Stories of isolation before the Coronavirus: following the example of stigmatics

By Leonardo Rossi Exceptional, surreal, unusual. These words are among some of the most frequently used expressions of the bewilderment that we are all experiencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Only a few months ago, we considered it a worrying but distant danger, since then we have realised that we were wrong. From China toContinue reading “Stories of isolation before the Coronavirus: following the example of stigmatics”

Transformations

by Kristof Smeyers The beast and the frog In 1916, as the First World War came to a standstill in the trenches of the western front, a great beast went hunting in the forests of New Hampshire, USA. The beast, an odd and disturbing creature by all accounts, stalked a frog. In The myth of disenchantment (pp. 159-160),Continue reading “Transformations”