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Full Version: Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs
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Well! Doesn't this look like a very interesting and splendiferous book? (And it's HARDCOVER -- yayyyyyyyyyyyyyy!):


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Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs
Paul Koudounaris (Author)
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1 edition (October 8, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0500251959
ISBN-13: 978-0500251959
Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.9 x 0.9 inches 

Description:

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Quote: An intriguing visual history of the veneration in European churches and monasteries of bejeweled and decorated skeletonsDeath has never looked so beautiful. The fully articulated skeleton of a female saint, dressed in an intricate costume of silk brocade and gold lace, withered fingers glittering with colorful rubies, emeralds, and pearls—this is only one of the specially photographed relics featured in Heavenly Bodies.

In 1578 news came of the discovery in Rome of a labyrinth of underground tombs, which were thought to hold the remains of thousands of early Christian martyrs. Skeletons of these supposed saints were subsequently sent to Catholic churches and religious houses in German-speaking Europe to replace holy relics that had been destroyed in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. The skeletons, known as “the catacomb saints,” were carefully reassembled, richly dressed in fantastic costumes, wigs, crowns, jewels, and armor, and posed in elaborate displays inside churches and shrines as reminders to the faithful of the heavenly treasures that awaited them after death.Paul Koudounaris gained unprecedented access to religious institutions to reveal these fascinating historical artifacts. Hidden for over a century as Western attitudes toward both the worship of holy relics and death itself changed, some of these ornamented skeletons appear in publication here for the first time.105 illustrations, 90 in color
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More pix from inside:

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Reviews:

“These macabre images elicit a range of contemporary references, from Goonies to bling-laden rappers to artist Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull.” (Wired.com)

“Perhaps this book is not the originator of the phrase 'skeletons in your closet,' but if it were, that closet would be looking quite stupendous.” (Dazed Digital)

“An art historian nicknamed ‘Indiana Bones’ has unearthed a haunting collection of jewel-encrusted skeletons which were hidden in churches in Europe up to 400 years ago.” (New York Post)

“Photographer and author Paul Koudounaris gained unprecedented access to these so-called ‘catacomb saints’ for his new book Heavenly Bodies. Many had never been photographed for publication before. Revered as spiritual objects and then reviled as a source of embarrassment for the Church, their uneven history is marked by one constant: a mysterious, if unsettling, beauty.” (CNN.com)

“A compelling read. . . . The gorgeous photos that accompany the text only reaffirm the opulence of such relics.” (Gothic Beauty)

“Smart and accessible, Heavenly Bodies opens the door to this largely overlooked aspect of the Counter Reformation era.” (Hi-Fructose)

“Prepared to be amazed by the splendor and beauty of ornamented skeletal remains.” (Palm Springs Life)

“Koudounaris takes his subject beyond historical rubbernecking and looks at how bodies can move the spirit—and why we can’t let go and can’t look away.” (The North Coast Journal)

“Brings to life a group of long-forgotten Catholic relics.” (Lapham's Quarterly)

“Investigates the historic attempts to prescribe posthumous identities to skeletons, specifically those believed to be martyrs.” (Vice.com)

“Oh, you didn’t know the skeletons of martyrs were unabashedly decked out in gems? Welcome to the club.” (BuzzFeed)

“Focuses on the life and history of a set of false relics in the Catholic Church.” (The Desert Sun) [Vox: I hope the book doesn't go that way...]

“The images of the catacomb saints are dazzling, almost beyond belief.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This macabre mash-up of camp and Catholicism features nearly 100 drop-dead images of blinged-out skeletons.” (Passport Magazine) [Vox: Really?]

“A strange and fascinating book exploring bejeweled Counter Reformation Catholic Skeletons.” (American Society of Jewelry Historians)

I gotta admit that I've always found this stuff slightly creepy. Quite apart from the decayed human faces - not an intention of God from the beginning of time - there's a certain sad irony in the fact that these poverty-loving saints are clad in gold and jewels after having run the race. Beautiful shrines in HD photographs, no doubt, as well as many holy devotions by the Church Militant toward those who have won the race... but still, eerie. Smile
(03-05-2014, 08:49 AM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]I gotta admit that I've always found this stuff slightly creepy. Quite apart from the decayed human faces - not an intention of God from the beginning of time - there's a certain sad irony in the fact that these poverty-loving saints are clad in gold and jewels after having run the race. Beautiful shrines in HD photographs, no doubt, as well as many holy devotions by the Church Militant toward those who have won the race... but still, eerie. Smile

A side note:

Every Catholic altar used to have a relic embedded in it, I'm not sure if that is still true perhaps somebody on FE knows.

The relic in the altar was venerated at every Mass in the 1962 Missal.

" After this he goes to the altar, praying silently "that with pure minds we may worthily enter into the holy of holies", a reference to Exodus 26:33-34, 1 Kings (or 3 Kings) 6:16, 1 Kings (or 3 Kings) 8:6, 2 Chronicles (or 2 Paralipomenon) 3:8, Ezekiel 41:4, and others. He places his joined hands on the edge of the altar, so that only the tips of the small fingers touch the front of it, and silently prays that, by the merits of the Saints whose relics are in the altar, God may pardon all his sins. At the words "quorum relíquiæ hic sunt" (whose relics are here), he spreads his hands and kisses the altar."

It's just another one of the Catholic cultural things that has been "de-emphasized"...
Must. Have. This. Book.

I have been meaning to purchase for the last couple of months.
Another great book on relics

Witnesses to Mystery
Investigations into Christ's Relics
http://www.ignatius.com/Products/WITM-H/...?=iinsight

Relics have all but disappeared in the Church since the Council and with them the ancient tradition of having relics in the altar stone. The only places I generally see relics are Orthodox churches(where the relics of saints are sewn into the antimension that is placed on the holy table for the Divine Liturgy), trad chapels and tradition friendly Novus Ordo parishes. Aside from the places I mentioned the cult of the saints as well as their relics are pretty much dead,a relic (no pun intended) of pre Conciliar superstition happily cast away in the great aggiornamento occasioned by Pope John's glorious Council. It's kind of sad,I mean relics have been a part of almost every culture in history and a huge part of popular piety from the earliest days of the Church to about 1965 or so. I always make a point to pray at the reliquaries I come upon, especially when there are relics of the True Cross. At home I only have 3rd class relics but I'd have first class ones if I could. I have one of Venerable Solanus Casey and Padre Pio but I'd love one of St. Bernard,St Nicholas of Myra and St..Michael (a stone from the cave on Mt Gargano).
(03-05-2014, 10:06 AM)CaptCrunch73 Wrote: [ -> ]A side note:

Every Catholic altar used to have a relic embedded in it, I'm not sure if that is still true perhaps somebody on FE knows.

The relic in the altar was venerated at every Mass in the 1962 Missal.

" After this he goes to the altar, praying silently "that with pure minds we may worthily enter into the holy of holies", a reference to Exodus 26:33-34, 1 Kings (or 3 Kings) 6:16, 1 Kings (or 3 Kings) 8:6, 2 Chronicles (or 2 Paralipomenon) 3:8, Ezekiel 41:4, and others. He places his joined hands on the edge of the altar, so that only the tips of the small fingers touch the front of it, and silently prays that, by the merits of the Saints whose relics are in the altar, God may pardon all his sins. At the words "quorum relíquiæ hic sunt" (whose relics are here), he spreads his hands and kisses the altar."

It's just another one of the Catholic cultural things that has been "de-emphasized"...

For the record, I was referring primarily to these bejeweled skeletons and corpses, not to the practice of using altar-relics in general. The one is a macabre display of irony, but the other is essential to our faith. I'm not even creeped out by all skeletal displays; keeping St. Ambrose on display in his episcopal vestments is meaningful and holy, for example. What makes me laugh is pictures like those above: as if they'll need the diamonds, rubies, and sapphires when they are raised from the dead! If anything, such paraphernalia will simply fall away when the true glory of a resurrected human being shines with the light of Christ. That is more beautiful, in my opinion, than the metaphor created by the physical jewelry and gold on their bodies.

Strangely (apparently?), I've not yet encountered an altar that didn't have a 1st class relic in it.
So beautiful. I think a lot of these are in Germany, but obviously there also all over Europe.

This truly shows the traditional view of Death and glory in the church, something lost in our western world at a great cost.
http://empiredelamort.com

Check these out too, a lot of these are Christian. I visited the one in Rome built by franciscans. It was really quite a deep spiritual experience.