Tine Van Osselaer


Tine is research professor in the history of spirituality, devotion and mysticism at the Ruusbroec Institute of the University of Antwerp. In the last years, she has published on gender and religion (The pious sex. Catholic constructions of masculinity and femininity in Belgium, c.1800-1940, 2013); and edited volumes on religion and medicine (Sign or Symptom? Exceptional corporeal phenomena in religion and medicine in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 2017) religion and the family (Christian homes. Religion, family and domesticity in the 19th and 20th centuries, 2014), religion in the Great War (themed issue of Trajecta. Religion, Culture and Society in the Low Countries, 23.2, 2014) and on corporeality and emotions (themed issue of Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 126.4, 2013). She was the principal investigator of STIGMATICS: ‘Between saints and celebrities. The devotion and promotion of stigmatics in Europe, c.1800-1950’, a project sponsored by the European Research Council (Starting Grant) and is currently leading the projects “Patients and Passions. Catholic Views on Pain in Nineteenth-Century Austria” (sponsored by FWO/FWF, a collaboration with Maria Heidegger) and “Contested bodies. The religious lives of corpses” (sponsored by FWO/SNF, a collaboration with Angela Berlis).

Research interests:

  • Gender and religion
  • Domesticity, family and religion
  • Religion and science/knowledge systems
  • Corporeality and emotions
  • History of pain
  • Religion and war
  • Celebrity culture, media and religion

Leonardo Rossi

Leonardo obtained his doctorate in history at the University of Antwerp (2020) with a thesis entitled “Holiness and Sanctity. Italian Stigmatics and the Holy Office in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century” (part of the ERC project “Between saints and celebrities.” P.I. Tine Van Osselaer). He focused on popular devotion and the ecclesiastical response to Italian stigmatics, the concepts of holiness and sanctity, and the Holy Office in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. He has a background in medieval religious history (University of Florence).

He is currently working on the “Contested Bodies” project (funded by FWO / SNF), in which he analyzes the afterlife of prodigious Italian bodies (c.1750-1950), in particular cases related to mendicant orders and new religious foundations.

Kristof Smeyers


 graduated in Cultural History at the University of Leuven (2010) with a dissertation on the intertwined worlds of Belgian art, postmodernism and psychoanalysis in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Since then he has worked as a researcher in library and archive collections of art institutions, the University of Oxford and the National Bank of Belgium. This resulted in a book on the economic history of Belgium (Het gestolde land. Een economische geschiedenis van België, 2016). He previously worked as a research assistant in the Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe project at University College London, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He is editor-at-large of The Dutch Review of Books and regularly contributes essays on history, economy, and (memory) politics.

Within Religious Bodies, Kristof is a Ph.D. student (BOF grant) at the University of Antwerp, where he studies British and Irish stigmatics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: their rise to fame (or infamy), their appropriation by figures and groups from all sides of the social, religious and political spectrum, and their legacies in religious and folk culture. You can find Kristof on Twitter: @kristof_smeyers

Linde Tuybens


Linde obtained a Master’s degree in Cultural History at the University of Leuven in 2017. She wrote a dissertation on medical expertise in cases of sexual assault in Belgium in the second half of the nineteenth century. In her thesis she examined how expertise was constructed and how these physicians gave meaning to the victim’s body. After graduating, she has worked in the private sector and as a teaching assistant of the KU Leuven research group Cultural History since 1750.

Since March 2020, Linde is working as a Ph.D. student on the Patients and Passions project (funded by the FWF-FWO). By studying stigmatics in nineteenth-century Austria, she is investigating Catholic views on pain and suffering: what was seen as emotional and/or physical pain, how was it interpreted, and how did contemporaries respond to this suffering. This research will thus also shed light on the impact of modern medicine on the meanings of pain for Catholics in this time period.

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