The Sixty-Third A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts: Past Belief: Visions of Early Christianity in Renaissance and Reformation Europe, Part 4: Relics and Ruins: Material Survivals and Early Modern Interpretations
Anthony Grafton, Princeton University. In this six-part lecture series entitled Past Belief: Visions of Early Christianity in Renaissance and Reformation Europe, Anthony Grafton focuses on the efforts of artists and scholars to recreate the early history of Christianity in a period of crisis in the church from the 15th to the 17th century. In this fourth lecture, entitled “Relics and Ruins: Material Survivals and Early Modern Interpretations,” originally delivered at the National Gallery of Art on April 27, 2014, Professor Grafton reveals Catholic and Protestant sensibilities as extremes that touched when scholars of both denominations feared the loss of tangible evidence of early Christian practice and ritual threatened in the course of modernization and destroyed in the wake of religious wars. Even as critical attitudes arose regarding the authenticity of these material remains, the past was seen in a new light in which they were acknowledged as witnesses to the pious traditions of the early church rather than as sources of corruption and deception.