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Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs 1st Edition
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“Perhaps this book is not the originator of the phrase 'skeletons in your closet,' but if it were, that closet would be looking quite stupendous.” (Dazed Digital)
“An art historian nicknamed ‘Indiana Bones’ has unearthed a haunting collection of jewel-encrusted skeletons which were hidden in churches in Europe up to 400 years ago.” (New York Post)
“Photographer and author Paul Koudounaris gained unprecedented access to these so-called ‘catacomb saints’ for his new book Heavenly Bodies. Many had never been photographed for publication before. Revered as spiritual objects and then reviled as a source of embarrassment for the Church, their uneven history is marked by one constant: a mysterious, if unsettling, beauty.” (CNN.com)
“A compelling read. . . . The gorgeous photos that accompany the text only reaffirm the opulence of such relics.” (Gothic Beauty)
“Smart and accessible, Heavenly Bodies opens the door to this largely overlooked aspect of the Counter Reformation era.” (Hi-Fructose)
“Prepared to be amazed by the splendor and beauty of ornamented skeletal remains.” (Palm Springs Life)
“Koudounaris takes his subject beyond historical rubbernecking and looks at how bodies can move the spirit―and why we can’t let go and can’t look away.” (The North Coast Journal)
“Brings to life a group of long-forgotten Catholic relics.” (Lapham's Quarterly)
“Investigates the historic attempts to prescribe posthumous identities to skeletons, specifically those believed to be martyrs.” (Vice.com)
“Oh, you didn’t know the skeletons of martyrs were unabashedly decked out in gems? Welcome to the club.” (BuzzFeed)
“Focuses on the life and history of a set of false relics in the Catholic Church.” (The Desert Sun)
“The images of the catacomb saints are dazzling, almost beyond belief.” (Publishers Weekly)
“This macabre mash-up of camp and Catholicism features nearly 100 drop-dead images of blinged-out skeletons.” (Passport Magazine)
“A strange and fascinating book exploring bejeweled Counter Reformation Catholic Skeletons.” (American Society of Jewelry Historians)
“Magnificently illustrated. . . . An illuminating read for jewelry historians and gemologists alike.” (Gems and Gemology)
“The photography by Koudounaris is outstanding. He was given access that most tourists touting a camera are not.” (Examiner.com)
“Koudounaris is one of the first people to photograph the strangely stunning skeletons that have been rediscovered over the years. And while he can't speak to their authenticity as saints, he does believe that they are extraordinary works of art that deserve to be seen.” (People.com)
“In telling the story of these extraordinary relics, Koudounaris makes a case for them as neglected masterpieces of religious art. . . . Koudounaris uncovers a lost world of religious devotion, in which sanctified remains could control the weather, save souls from purgatory, and serve as all-purpose patrons.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)
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Top Customer Reviews
My girlfriend is always trying to get me interested in art books, often (with the exceptional ocassion) without much sucess, mostly because of the pretentious writing that tends to seep into these types of publications. Paul Koudounaris' writing is different: not only acessible, but truly fun and entertaining, yet still informative and fascinating. I suppose one has to, when writing about the fun and the beauty in death, and I'd much rather self-educate with a smile.
Not so much.
In what might be a spectacle worthy of a horror movie, many of these relics, on display in churches throughout southern Germany, are documented by Paul Koudounaris in his extraordinary book, "Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs." With dozens of full-page, beautifully-composed photographs as well as accessible, well-researched prose, Koudounaris tells the story of the Katakombenheiligen or Catacomb Saints. These were the supposed skeletons of Christians martyrs spirited out of Rome's catacombs from the 1600s to the 1800s, and destined to replace precious relics destroyed during the Reformation. Whether the bones could be proven to be martyrs or even Christian mattered little; the fact that they were Roman was enough to merit a trip beyond the Alps. After their "translation," or travel from Rome, they were cleaned, assembled, dressed, bejeweled, posed and displayed in churches in the German speaking world. Since in many cases the bones came without provenance, they were often named by their new owners -- either after a popular patron of a local monastery, for some virtue (St. Fortunatus, St. Felicity) or their lack of a name (St. Incognito). These town patrons were regularly removed from their niches and paraded through town for veneration, a few even in modern times.
Koudounaris brings alive a time when gruesome displays of the dead were an aid to faith.Read more ›
of the Ossuaries from the different parts of the World. It was
a good work.
However, Heavenly Bodies failed to deliver the same scholarly expertise.
Theses topics were already discussed in other books and I was expecting
more stories about the Catacomb Saints. Although the reproduction of the
pictures was well done, but almost limited.
I am still looking forward for the Bibliography consulted for this work.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating subject matter; fairly poor photographs of the sort of quality one expects of holiday snapshots.Published 3 months ago by mitsukurina
Fascinating book with unbelievably beautiful pictures. Makes for a very interesting coffee table book as well.Published 5 months ago by Brandon Smith
amazing book for the art lovers, this relics are beautiful and haunting the same time, the book print is magnificent, it worth each cent!Published 6 months ago by Jonathan Espinoza Mazariegos
This book is absolutely amazing. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy immediately!Published 7 months ago by Angelena
Superior quality images, extraordinary design, interesting content. Worth buying this book.Published 7 months ago by Csaba Simándi
A great book for both religious history and archaeology study. It is a fascinated look at a unique piece of historical artifacts.Published 7 months ago by Timoteo S. Honesto