“Dear God, why?!” I’ve overheard the phrase so many times. Under electric chandeliers made of human bone in a church crypt. At the shrine of a saint, where tourists come to see her disembodied head. And in front of an Italian sculptor’s tomb, where he chose to depict himself as a rotting corpse.
Death is not the end of the road for Catholics. Though the public display of corpses and bones may seem macabre, these traditions illustrate a spiritual and physical journey that begins at death. It’s a journey that takes us through the liminal spaces between here and the afterlife and between flesh and bone; where the impermanence and embarrassment of the human body and it’s functions only underscores the permanence and dignity of the soul.
In this illustrated talk, we’ll take a virtual walking-tour through spaces devoted to death and uncover their hidden meanings.