Loci Sacri

Loci Sacri: Understanding Sacred Places

T. Coomans
H. De Dijn
J. De Maeyer
R. Heynickx
B. Verschaffel
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 284
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qdxq6
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  • Book Info
    Loci Sacri
    Book Description:

    Sacred places have long exercised a special fascination. Sacred places are not static entities but reveal a historical dynamic. They are the result of cultural developments and have varied multidimensional levels of significance. They are places where time is, as it were, suspended, and they are points where holy times and holy places meet. Sacred places are places apart. It is this specificity in the context of the Christian religions of the West that Loci Sacri wishes to unveil by bringing together specialists from various disciplines, countries, and Christian denominations. One of the questions is why some sites have for centuries proven to be so popular while others have not. Another topic is the way in which extraordinary natural sites have been designated as sacred and given new meaning, primarily by means of architecture. Loci Sacri also explores the ‘eternal' character of this sacred status.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-105-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 7-11)
    RAJESH HEYNICKX, THOMAS COOMANS, HERMAN DE DIJN, JAN DE MAEYER and BART VERSCHAFFEL

    Although the essential condition for something to be considered ‘sacred’, worthy of spiritual respect, or for it to inspire awe seems to be being set apart, this does not imply that its relationship with the non-sacred vanishes. On the contrary, as Louis Dupré remarked: “The sacred isinthe profane. It stands out but it belongs to the same universe as its other dimension”.¹ But how can such an eccentric dimension be imagined or felt and, most of all, what secures its existence? The answer is ‘symbols’. Objects, images, walls, written words, sounds or sculptures can all function as energizing...

  4. SPIRITUALITY AND SCHOLARSHIP. SACRED ACTS AND SACRED SPACES
    (pp. 13-27)
    DAVID N. BELL

    Holiness, like beauty, is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. There is no such thing as a truly objective holiness, for what is regarded as holy by one person may not be regarded as such by another. A mosque may be a holy place to a Muslim but not to a Christian. A Shintõ shrine may be a holy place for a Japanese, but not for a Belgian. It is quite possible that certain sites or structures might possess natural powers or qualities, but natural power is not necessarily natural holiness, any more than electricity or magnetism are naturally...

  5. WHAT MAKES A MONASTERY A SACRED PLACE?
    (pp. 29-34)
    ARMAND VEILLEUX

    A sacred place may be visited by a tourist, a historian or an archaeologist. Each one of them, of course, looks at it from a different point of view. For some people, however, that place may also be adwelling place. My contribution will attempt to give you the point of view of someone who actually lives in a sacred place - a monastery - and who tries to reflect on the meaning of that place; that is, the meaning it has for his own life and for the life of those who live there with him, and also for...

  6. TYPES

    • INTRODUCTION
      (pp. 36-37)
      BART VERSCHAFFEL

      In his contribution to this book David Bell writes that “what may or not may be regarded as holy or sacred is a question which will be answered in different ways”, but is convinced that, in principle, anything can be considered as sacred or as holy: the holiness exists “in the eye of the beholder”. In this section, however, it is argued that the attribution of sacredness does not simply depends on opinion or free choice, and is not arbitrary at all, but relates tobehaviour. And this behaviour, individual as well as collective, has itsrationale. One can effectively...

    • THE SCANDAL OF PARTICULARITY. MEANING, INCARNATION, AND SACRED PLACES
      (pp. 39-47)
      HERMAN DE DIJN

      Religion as a natural phenomenon’ is the subtitle of a recent book by the philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett.² In this book, Dennett defends the urgency and the necessity of a naturalistic study of religion from a neo-Darwinian standpoint. Somewhat reluctantly, he recognizes the importance of a diversified human sciences approach in order to fully understand the complexity of the phenomenon in question.

      It is indeed fruitful to see religion as a ‘natural’, typically human phenomenon in which human beings are concerned with specific meanings and specific meaningful objects and entities. Insight into meaning in general, and into differences...

    • (SACRED) PLACES ARE MADE OF TIME. OBSERVATIONS ON THE PERSISTENCE OF THE SACRED IN CATEGORIZING SPACE IN MODERNITY
      (pp. 49-55)
      BART VERSCHAFFEL

      It is common to understand the modern condition as livingbeyondthe old and the archaic.All that is solid melts into air: modern life is (unbearably) ‘light’, since it has set itself free from the constraints and the weight of tradition. It is undoubtedly true that the modern conditionalsomeans that old meaning systems are replaced by new means to obtain similar goals: the sciences provide what can be considered a world view and orientation in time and space, science and technology make us believe that we have a grip on things and on life, so that magic...

    • THE HOUSE OF GOD? THE CONCEPTUALIZATION OF SACRED PLACES IN THE HEBREW BIBLE AND BEYOND
      (pp. 57-66)
      PIERRE VAN HECKE

      One of the best known - and most contested - sacred places in the world is without doubt the Temple Mount or Haram ash-Sharif in Jerusalem, now hosting the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque. As far as we can reconstruct, the place was first considered sacred in biblical times, viz. as the location where King Solomon purportedly built a temple to God. Throughout the biblical period, the Jerusalem temple remained the central - although by no means the only - sacred place, whether real or imagined.

      When trying to understandloci sacriand their meaning, especially in...

  7. SITES

    • INTRODUCTION
      (pp. 68-71)
      RAJESH HEYNICKX

      The reality we live in its brute form is infinite complex, even chaotic, and therefore acquires - if it wants to lead to pellucid and meaningful experiences - a process establishing a kind of order. Hierarchical series of symbolic frameworks (such as language, scripture, art) give meaning and integration to the ever-widening segments of life. Such filtering process through symbolic categories is also at work in the creation of sacred sites. Whereas an ordinary site entails the location of an event, structure, object, or other thing, whether actual, virtual, abandoned, extant or planned, asacredsite does something ‘more’: it...

    • THE NEED AND THE SEARCH FOR SACRED PLACES. A SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
      (pp. 73-91)
      LILIANE VOYÉ

      Everyone knows that beginning in the late 1960s, religious practices and religious commitment began a drastic decline, as did the religious vocations in Europe. One consequence of such an evolution was the strong reduction in the use of a great many religious buildings: many churches are now empty and it is difficult to find priests to ensure the planned number (though reduced) of religious services. Many convents and monasteries are becoming too large for their reduced number of nuns and monks. Furthermore, the pyramid-shaped diagram representing their population by age group indicates that their replacement is not certain. Thus the...

    • CAPTURING NAMELESS ENERGIES, EXPERIENCING MATRIXIAL PARADOXES. SYNCRETIST SACRED SITES ON THE CANARY ISLANDS
      (pp. 93-123)
      PAUL VANDENBROECK

      Sacred sites are either remembrance sites of concrete facts or events (be they mythical or historical), or ‘presence’ sites, linked to nameless energies or forces, which are ‘interpreted’ and ‘identified’ during later phases. We will concentrate here on instances of the latter kind, in the context of syncretism of Christian and pagan religions.

      Let us start with a well-known example: Scherpenheuvel or Montaigu (literally ‘steep hill’) in Brabant (Flanders, Belgium). Scholars have recently studied the case of Scherpenheuvel: how, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, it was intensely promoted by the Archdukes Albert and Isabella, and how it played...

    • NO PLACES OF PILGRIMAGE WITHOUT DEVOTION(S)
      (pp. 125-137)
      CHARLES M.A. CASPERS

      In his masterpiece,Ascent of Mount Carmel, the Spanish mystic John of the Cross (d. 1591) mentions three different kinds of place by means of which God moves the human will to devotion.¹ The first kind “includes those sites which have pleasant variations in the arrangement of the land and the trees, and provide solitary quietude, all of which naturally awakens devotion”.² The second kind of place is linked to one’s personal life history. It is a place where God has granted a particular favour to a person. Such a place attracts the heart of the person who has received...

    • REPRESENTING SACRED SPACE. PILGRIMAGE AND LITERATURE
      (pp. 139-167)
      JAMIE S. SCOTT

      As I was researching materials for this essay, I came across a compelling title: Steven Lehrer’sHitler Sites: A City-By-City Guidebook (Austria, Germany, France, United States). For better or worse, whatever the various kinds of reaction this title evokes in the marketplace, author and publisher clearly anticipate not only a readership for the book, but also an audience of likely travellers to the sites the book discusses. Are such travellers pilgrims in some sense, and is this book literature? Put in more general terms, Lehrer’sHitler Sitesindicates to me that notions like ‘pilgrimage’ and ‘literature’ are what I like...

    • PURPORTED SACRALITY. THE AMBIGUOUS PAST AND IRONIC PRESENT OF A SOMETIMES SACRED MESOAMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL-TOURIST SITE
      (pp. 169-193)
      LINDSAY JONES

      This contribution is a modest - and still highly tentative¹ - portion of a much larger project that charts a 2500-year ‘architectural reception history’ of the archaeological-tourist site of Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico, a spectacular mountaintop site that was formerly the grandiose capital of a pre-Columbian Zapotec empire but now stands as a partially reconstructed ruin.² The notion of an architectural reception history depends upon an acknowledgement that built forms - say, the innumerable pyramids and platforms of this once-fabulous ancient city - do not have intrinsic meanings that remain stable over time. From this perspective, buildings in and of...

    • WHAT MAKES A SITE SACRED? TRANSFORMING ‘PLACE’ TO ‘SACRED SPACE’
      (pp. 195-208)
      TERRYL N. KINDER

      The subject of sacred sites is as popular as it is complex. An Internet search for ‘sacred place’ calls up nearly 39 million websites, while at the time of writing, 69 million respond to the word ‘sacred’. Why is this word charged with such compelling force? What does it mean and who decides what is ‘sacred’? What can be said about some of the ways that places are - or are not - transformed from ordinary to sacred? And how is the ‘sacred’ used?

      When walking with my father in a pathless wood in western New York State in the...

  8. REUSING

    • INTRODUCTION
      (pp. 210-211)
      THOMAS COOMANS

      In this section, the accent lies both on buildings which once were erected on sacred places and on the interaction between a place and a building. Buildings always are made by man with the intention to make the sacredness of the place visible and develop a human presence on a place. Erect a building on a sacred place is one of the various acts of appropriation - or colonization - of the place by man. With buildings, the ‘owner’ of the place not only materializes, represents and symbolizes the sacred in the space, but he also expresses his identity, within...

    • DEDICATION RITUALS AND TWO MODELS FOR THE SACRALIZATION OF SPACE
      (pp. 213-219)
      MAARTEN DELBEKE

      Sometime during the first years of the reign of Pope Alexander VII, around 1656-57, the question arose of where in Rome the pope should live. The discussion was in all likelihood prompted by Alexander’s intention to move the papal household for longer periods, if not permanently, from the Vatican to the palace on the Quirinal hill, the present presidential palace. Several members of the cultural elite closely associated with Alexander debated the project, and arguments in favour of one or the other residence were drafted. Two opposite opinions stand out in length and detail, one written by Sforza Pallavicino, a...

    • REUSE OF SACRED PLACES. PERSPECTIVES FOR A LONG TRADITION
      (pp. 221-241)
      THOMAS COOMANS

      Even though the use of buildings of worship for other purposes seems a challenge to our present Western society,¹ this phenomenon has a long tradition. This essay will examine what happened in the past with redundant churches: not the preoccupations with the recent past or the present heritage, but in a long-term perspective.² It is important to notice that concepts such as conservation of heritage, protection of buildings and sites, restoration and museum making are relatively recent and variable. Although these concepts appeared about two centuries ago, they still generate new theories and their meanings are still evolving.

      The question...

    • ‘HERITAGIZATION’ OF CHURCH BUILDINGS. QUEBEC AND NORTH AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES
      (pp. 243-255)
      LUC NOPPEN and LUCIE K. MORISSET

      The title of this essay about heritage-making (‘heritagization’ orpatrimonialisationin French) and churches ‘becoming’ heritage in America evokes an ambitious endeavour: that of depicting in about ten pages the future of several thousands of monuments belonging to over a hundred religious traditions and organizations that serve a population of about 300 million individuals. But such an endeavour really is possible, because all of North America has somewhat homogeneous habits regarding this heritage. We will outline here the prevalent North-American attitudes and practices as regards making heritage out of church buildings; this will serve as a reference framework to emphasize...

  9. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 256-280)
  10. AUTHORS
    (pp. 281-282)
  11. COLOPHON
    (pp. 283-283)