Holiness adorns your house Discourses on the "beauty of your house, LORD" in the context of sanctification of monastic life

Third Party Funds Group - Sub project

Overall project details

Overall project: FOR 1533: Sakralität und Sakralisierung in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit. Interkulturelle Perspektiven in Europa und Asien (seit 2010)

Overall project speaker:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Herbers (Lehrstuhl für Mittelalterliche Geschichte)

Project Details

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Heidrun Stein-Kecks

Contributing FAU Organisations:
Professur für Mittlere und Neuere Kunstgeschichte

Funding source: DFG / Forschergruppe (FOR)
Start date: 01/08/2013
End date: 31/12/2017

Research Fields

Architekturgebundene Bildprogramme und Bilder in sakralen / monastischen Kontexten
Professur für Mittlere und Neuere Kunstgeschichte

Abstract (technical / expert description):

Choosing monasticism as the context of study, we choose a context in which holiness is explicitly postulated as an act of constitution and sacralization as a goal of this specific way of life. It is in the same time the context where the debate on the appropriateness of holy images, which is a central topic in Christian Theology and to be discussed in the context of non-christian dicourses on holy images, is intensified when in the early 12th century Bernard of Clairvaux criticized within the general reform of the Church and the monastic life the opulence of decoration and images in the exclusive sphere of monasteries; here the décor could not function to educate an illiterate audience; thus the traditional didactic argument in favor of sacred art was not fulfilled. The project studies theological texts and monumental iconographic programs from the late 11th until the turn of the 13th century looking at its contribution to the discourses on images of the High Middle Ages and examines the assumption that the new pictorial concepts take up holiness as a central argument within the visual discourse. This notion is based on psalm 25/26,8 “I love the beauty of your house, LORD” which first appeared in its literally exegesis as an affirmative argument for the material decoration in churches in the 12th century (Suger von St. Denis, Theophilus presbyter). The in some way corresponding psalm 92/93,5 according to which “Holiness adorns your house, LORD, for all time” opens up the way for the conception of visual programs in monastic spaces such as the presbytery and the cloister to develop appropriate pictorial programs for the way of life of this exclusive audience aimed at anticipating sacredness and striving for spiritual healing. The implicit aesthetic dimension within the texts is easily comprehensible and can be analyzed by means of the outstanding preserved monuments. When the monastic life becomes the focus of attention – most recently by Giorgio Agamben under the innovative approach as a dispositif –, the study of the visual dispositif of decoration of specific monastic kind of Domus Dei adds on to its complex exegesis. Besides new findings in the analysis of known texts and ensembles of décor, the Tractatus of Boto of Prüfening, De domo Dei, which has barely been acknowledged, as well as a new ensemble of a monastery´s chapel with complete mural painting will be introduced into research.


Stein-Kecks, H. (2017). Die Stigmatisierung der heiligen Katharina von Siena und die Verehrung der 'Croce dipinta' aus Pisa. In Andrea Beck, Klaus Herbers, Andreas Nehring (Eds.), Heilige und geheiligte Dinge. Formen und Funktionen (pp. 143-168). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.
Stein-Kecks, H. (2014). Theophilus Presbyter, Boto von Prüfening und der Bilderschmuck der Kirchen. In Speer, Andreas (Eds.), Zwischen Kunsthandwerk und Kunst. Die "schedula diversarum artium" (pp. 288-304). Berlin u.a.: De Gruyter.
Stein-Kecks, H. (2012). Bilder – ein Medium der Kommunikation für Mönche? In Andenna Cristina, Herbers Klaus, Melville Gert (Eds.), Die Ordnung der Kommunikation und die Kommunikation der Ordnungen. Bd. 1: Netzwerke: Klöster und Orden im Europa des 12. und 13. Jahrhunderts (pp. 223-242). Stuttgart: Steiner.

Last updated on 2018-22-11 at 18:41