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Relics and Reliquaries: A Matter of Life and Death
Dr. Cynthia Hahn, Professor of Art History, Hunter College, CUNY
A not unusual modern response to reliquaries is disgust--after all they often contain bones. To understand their presence, even their glorification, it must be admitted that the bones are not the ordinary subject of horror, rather as the bones of the blessed, “dem bones gonna rise again”! In a Christian understanding, they will be instrumental in linking heaven and earth. Relics (with the help of their reliquaries) lead away from death and horror through intercession and access to salvation. Indeed, only in a later, almost modern development did the bones--and the “economy” of death-- become subjects of fascination in themselves. This is a Harn Eminent Scholar Chair in Art History Lecture. A Reception will follow the lecture.