Doctoral Project
Catholicism and Historicism. The Catacomb Copies of A. Bonelli and the Christian Rationales of Historical Culture in Architecture

Doctoral Project
Jasper Van Parys
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Maarten Delbeke

Catholicism and historicism. The catacomb copies of A. Bonelli and the Christian rationales of historical culture in architecture

Historians of science situate the origins of historicism in Christian theology: the flourishing of historical-critical hermeneutics in Reformed biblical scholarship is seen as the precondition of the advent of scientific historicism. By contrast, in the history of architecture secular nationalism still obscures the impact of early modern religion on cultural historicism. This persisting historiographical disconnection between cultural historicism and religion is not innocent. It marginalises religious rationales even in histories of papal transformations of Roman churches. With a particular method this project aims to dispel the underlying taboo on Catholic historicism. The project investigates how Catholic priests mediated between historical science and religious devotion by means of the liturgical use of immersive copies of rooms from Rome’s catacombs. The construction of such archaeological copies occurred especially in France and in Rome itself throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Image: Crypt, Basilica of the Santi XII Apostoli, Rome, Italy, photograph Jasper Van Parys