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"Hangd for the true faith": Martyrs and Relics in an Early Modern Cloister

A seminar by Dr Claire Walker at The University of Adelaide.


Date: Monday 28 May 2018
Time: 12‒1pm
Venue: Stretton Room, Napier 420, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide
RSVP and Enquiries: Jacquie Bennett (jacquie.bennett@adelaide.edu.au)

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The annals of the English Carmelites of Antwerp document religious devotions which were intensely corporeal. Biographical sketches of individual sisters describe spiritual practices in which prayer and meditation, often enhanced by visual or bodily contact with devotional objects, fostered mystical encounters with Christ, saints and martyrs. The Passion and the physical torment of holy figures who died for their faith infused the cloister’s spirituality. At Antwerp, nuns encountered stories of suffering in devotional books and in hagiographical accounts of both the early Christian, and the more recent English, martyrs. They might also engage physically with Christ and saints through the cloister’s relic collection and other objects of devotion. This paper explores the religious milieu at Antwerp, considering the nuns’ spiritual proclivity for suffering not only as a product of Jesuit direction, but also as a consequence of their religious exile from England. It argues that a culture of martyrdom infused private devotional practices and shaped the convent’s corporate identity.

Claire Walker is a senior lecturer in History at The University of Adelaide and an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Europe 1100–1800. She is the author of Gender and Politics in Early Modern Europe: English Convents in France and the Low Countries (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) and numerous articles on exiled religious women. Her current research focuses on materiality and affect in religious practice

Presented by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, and the Department of History at The University of Adelaide.

Image: ‘Saint Teresa. Line engraving by P. Drevet after C. Lebrun’. Wellcome Collection.