Dismembered Divinity: Saints' Relics

Karmen MacKendrick

in Fragmentation and Memory

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780823229499
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823236961 | DOI:
Dismembered Divinity: Saints' Relics

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This chapter discusses the relics of saints, their paradoxical play between fragmentation and wholeness, vitality and mortality, sacrality and profanity, and the kinds of memory at work in the display and understanding of these bodily bits, the kinds of temporality thus evoked. Relics, while no longer central to the structure of churches or most habits of worship, retain a persistent fascination. They literalize the body's fragmentation, but they also suggest a peculiar persistence of wholeness. The three experiences of memory evoked here are: historical, communal, and sacred. The chapter argues that each draws other times into a slippery present; each draws fullness of life into a fragment (of time and flesh both), and each unsettles the notions of identity as a tidy individuality.

Keywords: saint's relics; wholeness; mortality; sacrality; experience; memory

Chapter.  11405 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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