Review: HEAVENLY BODIES: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs, by Paul Koudounaris
By Boston Bibliophile on February 09, 2014
Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs, by Paul Koudounaris.One of my favorite parts of my job as a bookseller is shelving new books, because I get to see and handle so much of what goes out on the shop floor. It's fun to page through the random, weird, beautiful things we get in- and nothing was weirder or more random than Heavenly Bodies, art scholar Paul Koudounaris's book on the bizarre but striking phenomenon of the so-called "catacomb saints" of the German-speaking world.So Koudounaris tells us, after the Reformation, concerned with waxing belief among the faithful and eager to rally enthusiasm, the Roman Catholic Church embarked on a project of distributing skeletons believed to be of martyrs to churches in German-speaking countries, where the Protestant Reformation had taken hold most fervently. The skeletons were then dressed and jeweled in elaborate costumes and ornament, then displayed prominently in churches. . . .