Jesuit Relic Management: Building Spiritual Empire in Asia
Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi)
Ines G. Županov, Senior Fellow (directrice de recherche) CNRS and codirector of the CEIAS, is invited as Visiting Professor at the Center for Historical Studies/Center for Advanced Study, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, for the period between February 13-26, 2017. She will give a lecture "Jesuit Relic Management: Building Spiritual Empire in Asia" on February 22nd, 2017. During the two weeks, she will meet with students and professors interested in history of Christianity in Asia in the early modern period.
Among the sacred objects Jesuit missionaries imported, created, exported, and filliped into circulation in Asia and around the globe, relics of saints and martyrs were probably the most valuable of all. Wherever the relics travelled, they were intended to foster and fuel Jesuit networks, and to shore up Christian affects and communities. Encased in their reliquaries, often made of precious materials and masterpieces of local craftsmanship, these sacred objects were ‘spiritual currency’ in the Christian empire the Jesuits worked to establish under the Portuguese royal Padroado.
By looking into only a sampling of documents from the Jesuit archives and during the first missionary century, I follow the movement of these objects (in texts, in time and in space), arguing that between the early 16th century and the early 17th century, the Jesuits not only quickened the flow of these objects, they also managed their quantity and quality, and modulated the publicity accorded to them in the apologetic texts. Most importantly, from around the middle of the seventeenth century the Jesuits, often torn between service to a community and demands from metropoles such as Lisbon and Rome, strove to secure the important relics and preserve them in one place.