Cultural History in the Catacombs: Early Christian Art and Macarius’s <i>Hagioglypta</i> *

Irina Oryshkevich

in Sacred History

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199594795
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741494 | DOI:
Cultural History in the Catacombs: Early Christian Art and Macarius’s Hagioglypta *

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Hagioglypta sive picturae et sculptura, a little-studied tract on the origins of Christian iconography written by the Flemish cleric Jean l’Heureux in the first decade of the seventeenth century offers rare insight into the way in which at least some early modern antiquarians in Rome viewed the art of the ancient Church. It is unusual in that it discusses the artistic merits of palaeo-Christian art at a time when it was valued chiefly as historical evidence of Rome’s primacy or of the early origins of Catholic ritual. Opposing the rampant Catholic cliché that regards images as books of the illiterate, l’Heureux underscores the sophistication of early Christian iconography and the profound knowledge required to understand its full significance. He thus applies current Renaissance theories of art to the revived interest in Christian antiquity that swept Rome during the Counter-Reformation.

Keywords: Christian iconography; early Christian art; catacombs; l’Heureux; Jean (Macarius); Bosio; Antonio; Borromeo; Federico; Severano; Giovanni

Chapter.  8387 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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