Category Archives: Religion

Religion in cinema and television

Clodagh Brook’s latest work, Screening Religions in Italy (2019), tackles a little-explored area: the role of Catholicism (but also of other religions) in the organisation, production and distribution of Italian film and television. Pollard (2008) and Garelli (2014), for example, have provided valuable summaries of what we know about the patterns of Italian religious belief and participation, electoral influence, relations between church and state, and so on, often considering in what respects Italy is becoming more religiously differentiated or perhaps even secular. But Brook tackles the detailed ways in which Catholicism – its icons, rituals and policies – has shaped the form and content of film-making in recent years, tracking its embedding across the public sphere and concluding that, surprisingly, its hold over the production and distribution of films has actually been strengthening since the 1990s.

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Exploring Venice’s past and present

Jen McFarland, enrolled in a History MA at the University of Melbourne, spent September to December 2019 in Venice as an ACIS Save Venice Fellow researching the identity, status and activities of the pizzocchere (associations of lay religious women) in the city in the 16th century. It was not her first exploration of religion there. In 2019 the journal Renaissance Studies published her study of Catherine of Siena’s incorporation into the iconography held in the Dominican convent of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in the late 15th century, in particular the ways in which the convent wanted to emphasise Catherine’s status as a legitimate stigmatic and to promote the then-current Dominican reform. Jen has written an interesting piece summarising her recent stay in Venice which can be found here.

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Dal guntiino al jilbab: come spiegare un cambio d’abito?

Kaha Mohamed Aden    ACIS

Dopo gli anni Novanta del secolo scorso il guntiino, il vestito molto colorito delle donne somale che lasciava il collo e le spalle scoperte, è scomparso, rimpiazzato dal jilbab (nome non somalo), il vestito solitamente scuro che copre intero il corpo dalla testa ai piedi. Questa rottura con una tradizione secolare del vestirsi ha caratterizzato non solo la Somalia ma anche le comunità somale in Italia e altrove.  Perché? In ‘Cambio d’abito‘, un breve saggio uscito recentemente sulla rivista Africa e Mediterraneo (2017) n.86 e disponibile qui, si cerca di dare una risposta, elencando i principali fattori politici, religiosi e sociali che insieme hanno portato a questo cambiamento drammatico nel vestirsi delle donne somale.   Continue reading

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Catholicism and politics after the DC

rmis20.v018.i02.coverThe latest issue of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies (vol.21, 3, 2016) has a set of articles on the nature of contemporary Catholicism and its relations to politics in Italy today. Did the election of Pope Francis mark a decisive shift in Catholic policy and practice, especially in the social field? How much and among whom does the call to preserve ‘Catholic values’, however understood, have force today?  To what extent has the Church developed a politically serviceable stance on the religious pluralism which comes with immigration and on the personal spirituality which follows institutional disaffection? Has the disappearance of Christian Democracy and the dispersal of its inheritance and inheritors across many parties destroyed any chance of the resurrection of political Catholicism?

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Pope Francis, the Year of Mercy and Vatican II

Max Vodola   Catholic Theological College, Melbourne

logo-giubileo1Recently Pope Francis announced a Year of Mercy for the Catholic Church commencing on 8 December 2015, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and concluding on the feast of Christ the King, 20 November 2016. This jubilee picks up a number of key themes emphasised by the Pope since the start of his pontificate: a Church called to go to the margins, a particular concern for the poor and the marginalised, the injunction for priests and bishops to have ‘the smell of the sheep’ on them by leaving the comfort of their offices and sacristies, and the Church called to be a ‘field hospital’ that heals the wounds and warms the hearts of the faithful. In demanding a more humble Church, Pope Francis is modelling what spiritual writers call ‘servant leadership’, giving immense power and prestige to his office precisely by forsaking the many trappings of a monarchical papacy that have evolved over centuries but in fact have little to do with the Gospel.

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Site of Resistance: The Popular Piety of Santa Maria delle Carceri in Prato

 Shannon Gilmore   University of California, Santa Barbara

260px-Prato,_Santa_Maria_delle_CarceriThis summer I enjoyed a month-long sojourn in Florence to expand my dissertation project on Central Italian miraculous image cults established in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, specifically the cult of Santa Maria delle Carceri in Prato. My trip got off to a promising start: I had the good fortune to attend the special mass marking the anniversary of Santa Maria delle Carceri’s first miracle. I was immediately grateful that I had arrived early to snag a seat, as the interior of Giuliano da Sangallo’s church was bursting at the seams with the faithful whose eyes were fixed on the miraculous image of the Virgin and Child with Saints Leonard and Stephen (c. 1350) above the high altar. The cult’s continuing significance to the diocese of Prato was immediately evident as a television cameraman ducked in and out of the tightly packed crowd to capture a perfect shot of the bishop who proudly wore a vestment bearing a screen-printed copy of the Marian image.

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I papiri di Carmelo Campanella

Chiara Ottaviano   Cliomedia Officina (Torino)

Carmelo Campanella e il suo papiroCarmelo Campanella è nato a Ragusa nel 1931 e ha vissuto fino a pochi anni fa in campagna allevando bovini. In tarda età ha scoperto di essere custode di un “patrimonio” di valore: era il 2000, l’anno del giubileo, e si trovava su un pullman diretto a Roma insieme ad altri pellegrini. Per intrattenere la comitiva, qualcuno si era impossessato del microfono e aveva cominciato a recitare qualche strofa in dialetto di non so più quale storia di santo, ricevendone grande apprezzamento. A quel punto il sig. Campanella, superando la timidezza, ha pensato di offrire all’auditorio un piccolo saggio della sua straordinaria memoria e del suo vastissimo repertorio di storie e di “cunti”, di canzoni e di preghiere, di motti di spirito e indovinelli, quasi tutto in versi e in dialetto siciliano. E’ stata l’ammirazione suscitata in quel gruppo di sconosciuti, così racconta, a renderlo improvvisamente consapevole del “tesoro” posseduto. Da qui la determinazione nell’intraprendere la sua avventura culturale, ovvero la trascrizione di tutto ciò che aveva impresso nella memoria a cui attribuiva rilevanza e valore, ritenendo che quel tesoro dovesse essere salvato per le generazioni successive e quindi condiviso. La scrittura era il mezzo.

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Burning emotions: Giovanni Tarantino at the Museo Italiano, Thursday 25 September 2014, at 6.30 pm

image001For about ten years now there has been talk of history having taken an “emotional turn”. If the scholars of the Annales School were aiming to write history from the bottom up, the historians of emotions aim “to write history from the inside out”. They try to recover the history of men and women’s subjectivity, focusing on diaries, private correspondence, gravestones, memorial monuments, ballads, relics, clothes, recipes, textiles, and visual sources. In Burning Emotions: Concepts, challenges, cases for the History of Emotions, a talk at the Museo Italiano in Carlton on Thursday 25 Sept at 6.30 pm, Giovanni Tarantino, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at the University of Melbourne, will discuss how different attempts to extinguish a fire consuming a multi-storey pagoda as represented in a late 18th century Japanese hanging silk scroll recently added to the permanent collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts reveal how cultural differences and cultural encounters deeply affected early modern emotional (and technical) responses to burning cityscapes and the enduring memories associated with them.

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La festa del Panettone riciclato

Edda Orlandi   Università degli Studi di Milano

514px-Saint_Blaise_Louvre_OAR504Il 3 febbraio, San Biagio, si celebra in Lombardia la Festa del Panettone avanzato. Giorno successivo alla Candelora (“Madona de la Candelora, de  l’inverna sem feura, pieuv, fioca ou tira vent, per quaranta dì sem amu indent”), San Bias (“du ur a squas”) rappresenta l’ultima occasione favorevole per recuperare dalla dispensa i panettoni natalizi avanzati, riciclandoli in omaggio alla tradizione che stabilisce che “San Bias benedis la gula e ‘l nas”: mangiando una fetta di panettone oggi si eviteranno infatti raffreddori e mal di gola fino alla fine della stagione invernale, anche nel caso, si suppone, che le condizioni metereologiche infauste, come quelle di quest’anno, abbiano fatto presagire altri 40 (-1, 39!) giorni d’inverno. Continue reading

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Of Coffee, Cakes, and an Obligatory Saint

Catherine Kovesi  University of Melbourne

Bassrelief of San Martino on the Oratory of the Scuola of San Martino

Bassrelief of San Martino on the Oratory of the Scuola of San Martino

Throughout most of the westernised world we have just celebrated the festival of Halloween. Each year many protest the intrusion of what they see as an Americanised festival into their indigenous traditions, and it did look a little anachronistic here in Venice to see Halloween paraphernalia in many shop windows. But now, barely a fortnight later, the windows are full of paraphernalia for a different and delightful festival here in the city, one with many similarities to Halloween in the ways in which it is celebrated by the children of Venice, but which is completely enmeshed in Venetian tradition. This is the Feast of San Martino, celebrated on 11 November for at least three centuries now.

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