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Celebrate Halloween and Día de los Muertos with an illustrated talk by Dr. Paul Koudounaris on his new book: Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Glendale Central Library Auditorium
(3 hours parking validated in the garage on the corner of Maryland and Harvard)

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PRESS: Glendale News Press | KPCC | Smithsonian | LA Beat | Wired | Daily Mail | Dazed and Confused

With his characteristic wit and wisdom, Koudounaris will present a richly illustrated talk based on his new book Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs (Thames & Hudson, 2013). Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this unique publication tells the story of 16th century skeletons from the Roman Catacombs once treasured as holy relics in Northern Europe but forgotten in the last century. Dr. Koudounaris gained unprecedented access to religious institutions to study and photograph these remarkable historical artifacts.

About the Book
In 1578 a labyrinth of underground burials was discovered in Rome that contained the remains of thousands of individuals assumed to be early Christian martyrs. The bones were disinterred and sent to many Catholic churches and religious houses in German-speaking Europe to replace holy relics that had been destroyed during the Protestant Reformation.

Reassembled by skilled artisans, encrusted with gold and jewels and richly dressed in fantastic costumes, the skeletons were displayed in elaborate public shrines as reminders of the spiritual treasures that awaited the faithful after death. For nearly three centuries these ‘Heavenly Bodies’ were venerated as miracle-workers and protectors of their communities until doubts about their authenticity surfaced in the modern era. They then became a source of embarrassment for the Church and most were destroyed or hidden away.

The book includes arresting images of more than seventy spectacular jeweled skeletons and the fascinating stories of dozens more, accompanied by rare archive material. This is the first time that some of these incredible relics – both intriguing historical artifacts and masterpieces of artistic craftsmanship in their own right – have appeared in a publication, with Koudounaris gaining unprecedented access to photograph in some of the most secretive religious establishments in Europe.

About the Author:
Koudounaris holds a PhD in Art History (UCLA) and has taught at numerous universities and lectured around the globe. His book The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses (Thames & Hudson, 2011), was named one of the ten best books of 2011 by the London Evening Standard.

© Images copyright Paul Koudounaris. Click on an image to see a larger version.


1601 West Mountain Street
Glendale, California 91201-1200
Tuesday & Thursday 12:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
1601 West Mountain Street
Glendale, CA 91201
(818) 548-2051

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Last modified: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 10:58:36 AM

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