Holy Images and Worship in the Catholic Church

Period: Modul 3 (14/1–24/3)

Ämne: Teologi, Kultur, Kurser på engelska

Religious art, whether in the form of holy images or of other sacred objects with iconic figuration, has been from the start a matter of choice rather than necessity, and as such has prompted numerous controversies and debates in the course of Christian history. What is at stake in art that makes it so central an issue in these theological controversies? This course explores the following three paths for attempting to answer this important question:

The historical path outlines the development of artistic forms in early Christianity and their growth and diffusion down to the Middle Ages, stressing the links between artistic expression and worship and the different functions that art assumed in the course of the first millennium of Christianity.

The theological part uses key texts from the Eastern image controversy and patristic sources. This path delves into the reasons for and against the use of artistic representation in worship, from the stricter issues of divine representation to the wider application of images of saints and the more specific topic of miraculous images.

The anthropological path examines what makes art so necessary to human beings that they give it up so reluctantly, yet they can also feel so passionate about what it should not be. As a concrete human activity, art is subject to the limitations and variations imposed on it by its contingency – fashions, tastes, skills, materials, and costs. At the same time, the artist creates in a manner evocative of divine creation. Aesthetics has a spiritual value that the Church has recognized and, despite facing so much trouble, does not wish to give up.

7,5 hp

Uppsala: Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 am to 12 pm

Half-distance with obligatory meetings in Uppsala: Mondays, February 11 and March 11

Kursledare: Barbara Crostini

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