Miraculous Affects and Analogical Materialities: Rethinking the Relation between Architecture and Affect in Baroque Italy

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‘By what awakening is this blood kindled to see again the bitter hours of its torments? By what heat is it rarefied, what virtue makes it move, and from where does it draw such beauty?’

This chapter investigates rituals and affect associated with miracles that recur regularly on specific feast days such as the anniversary of translations of blood relics. It investigates the miracle as affective and the affective language of the miraculous in 17thC Italy. It investigates how might we consider the 'life cycle' of the ritual in its own terms? It focuses on the famous rituals of early modern Naples the miraculous liquefaction of the bloods of San Gennaro, principal patron saint of Naples, together with that of St Patricia and St John the Baptist. These rituals specifically violate linear temporality as dry dead dust returns to vermillion life when the blood liquefies.
Thus rather than see rituals as tracing a course that moves from birth through flowering, to decline, how might we interrogate the chronology and temporality that they themselves trace, record, and require? This chapter considers the curious temporality of the early modern ritual of miraculous bloody liquefactions in Naples to think about ritual as staging a temporality that is neither conventionally chronological nor linear. That is, I argue that temporality is precisely one of the effects and principal concerns of ritual over and above its self-evident forms and orchestrations of status, hierarchy, and other social arrangements. I argue that the implications of these non-linear ritual effects in early modern Naples represent a challenge to the prevailing dominant understanding of 'civic' ritual articulated and brilliantly advanced by Edward Muir in Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice (1986).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRitual, Emotion and Power in Early Modern Europe
Subtitle of host publicationFamily, State and Church
EditorsKatie Barclay, Merridee Bailey
ISBN (Print)9783319441849
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2016

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in the History of Emotions

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