Mathilde Bonvalot Humanities and Social Science
Martyrdom Imagery in the Church of Santi Nereo e Achillo: Establishing the Lineage of Catholic Iconography through Theatrical Arrangement
The reassertion of Catholicism’s essential principles after the Council of Trent had a major impact on religious art production in 16th century Italy. Consciously putting together reliques from the early years of Christianity with Rinascimento painting techniques, the new visual programs created within Roman churches became the place where sacred space and ideas could be rebuilt, generating a new meaning for the Catholic community. I will travel to Rome to investigate the emergence of the discipline of Archaeology as the crucial event that allowed early Christian antiquities discovered in the Catacombs to be reinvested in churches during the Counter-Reformation. My research will focus mainly on the modest basilica of Santi Nereo e Achillo where infamous scenes of Christian martyrdom are believed to have been composed by Renaissance painter Pomarancio to understand how this gruesome imagery participated in the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church’s claims for historical legitimacy.