Media Release

Capturing Fragments of the Divine: Relics and Reliquaries of the True Cross

Lawrence, KS, January 14, 2014 – Christian relics are most commonly assumed to be bones of saints, but the most powerful and desirable of all relics within the Christian world are those associated with the Passion story. These relics, including what is known as the True Cross, will be the subject of this year’s Franklin D. Murphy Lecture, delivered by Hunter College Professor of Art History Cynthia Hahn on Thursday, January 23 at 5:30 pm.

The Medieval Christian church taught that the relic of a holy person or saint was almost like a direct line to heaven. Foremost among the relics is the "True Cross,” which takes a special place in the medieval (and modern) visual world as relic, sign, reliquary, and stage-set for belief and prayer. Furthermore, many True Cross relics have fascinating histories as objects multiplied and traded from court to court as instruments and indicators of power and privilege. Hahn’s talk will focus on these objects and their many roles.

The Murphy Lecture Series is sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art, the Kress Foundation Department of Art History at the University of Kansas, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. The lectureship was established in 1979 through the Kansas University Endowment Association in honor of former chancellor Dr. Franklin D. Murphy.

Cynthia Hahn has been writing books and articles on relics and reliquaries for more than ten years. Her work has appeared in Art HistoryArt BulletinGestaSpeculum, and many other journals and collections. She recently published Strange Beauty: Issues in the Making and Meaning of Reliquaries, 400-c 1204 with Pennsylvania State University Press in 2012. The book was a finalist for the College Art Association’s Charles Rufus Morey Book Award recognizing distinguished books in the history of art. Hahn is currently writing her next book on reliquaries, to be published by Reaktion press in London.

Capturing Fragments of the Divine: Relics and Reliquaries of the True Cross with Cynthia Hahn takes place at the Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi Street, 5:30 pm, Thursday, January 23. The talk is followed immediately by a reception. Dr. Hahn will give a follow-up lecture at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 2 pm.

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Elizabeth Kanost

Elizabeth Kanost
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