Call for Papers: ‘The Itinerant Shrine: Art, History and the Multiple Geographies of the Holy House of Loreto’, The Courtauld Institute, 30th June-1st July 2022, Deadline: 15th March 2022

The Santa Casa, or Holy House of the Virgin Mary, is a relic in constant motion. Legend holds that at the end of the thirteenth century, a company of angels flew Mary’s small brick house—the site of the Annunciation and Jesus’s childhood home—out of Nazareth before eventually depositing it in Loreto, a remote hill town in the Marches region of Central Italy. Over the ensuing centuries, the House prompted the movement of people to the sanctuary that grew up around it: migrant communities that had been excluded from other Italian cities came to settle in Loreto just as a growing number Christians set out on pilgrimage in order to visit the miraculous incorporation of the Holy Land into Europe. As the site grew in prominence, it attracted artists from multiple centres who produced opulent votive adornments in painting and sculpture. At the same time, the sanctuary became a point of transmission for devotional memorabilia, including prints, statuettes, ceramics, and tattoos. As a result of this proliferation of media, architectural reproductions of the Holy House emerged throughout Europe and as far afield as the Amazon Basin and modern-day Canada. Through contact with the original relic or one of its surrogates located across the globe, Loreto has continued to inspire devotional and artistic responses into the present day.

Building upon scholarly interest in the cult of the Holy House, this conference endeavours to serve as an important milestone for international academic discourse on Loreto. Responding to the humanities’ recent global turn, it will investigate how a small town in the Italian hinterland became a central node in an expansive geographic network.

Topics covered might include:
– The cult of Loreto, from its medieval foundations through the twenty-first century
– The Holy House of Nazareth and its various permutations (i.e., Walsingham, Sossau)
– Broader themes of mobility, migration and cultural contact
– The Santa Casa as an instrument of symbolic domination, religious conversion and colonisation
– Lay and religious patronage pertaining to the Loretan cult
– Iconographic and spatial reproduction of the sanctuary of Loreto, or the Santa Casa itself
– The sacred and political economies of pilgrimage

This conference welcomes proposals from early and mid-career scholars working in a variety of disciplines and employing diverse methodological approaches. Proposals of maximum 250 words and a brief CV must be sent by 15 March 2022 to ecgiffin@icloud.com and matteo.chirumbolo@courtauld.ac.uk. The main language of the workshop will be English. Speakers will be notified by 1 April 2022. Some expenses (i.e., travel costs and accommodation in London) will be covered.

Organised by Matteo Chirumbolo, Erin Giffin, and Antongiulio Sorgini.

Clive’s conference is kindly supported by Dr Nicholas Murray and Mr William Sharp in loving memory of Mr Clive Davies.

Published by Ellie Wilson

Ellie Wilson holds a First Class Honours in the History of Art from the University of Bristol, with a particular focus on Medieval Florence. In 2020 she achieved a Distinction in her MA at The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she specialised in the art and architecture of Medieval England under the supervision of Dr Tom Nickson. Her dissertation focussed on an alabaster altarpiece, and its relationship with the cult of St Thomas Becket in France and the Chartreuse de Vauvert. Her current research focusses on the artistic patronage of London’s Livery Companies immediately pre and post-Reformation. Ellie will begin a PhD at the University of York in Autumn 2021 with a WRoCAH studentship, under the supervision of Professor Tim Ayers and Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: