[ELH] Dr G.R.Jones: The culture of religion



Below, right: Animal-headed figures listen to the Apostles speaking in tongues at Pentecost. Animals' heads were given to righteous characters in illustrations accompanying Hebrew sacred writings, a tradition taken into Christian religious art. Animal-headed people were also shown in religious art to represent 'foreign' races. Thus Christopher, among the most frequently depicted saints on the walls of Western churches, was a member of a dog-headed race, according to Eastern apocryphal writings of Late Antiquity (Thirteenth-century MS from Deyrul-Zaafaran, from the Syrian Orthodox Bar Ebroyo CyberLibrary - accessible from the page devoted to the Eastern Churches). Texts and images relating to the Christ-bearer's cult are on David Woods' St Christopher web-site at University College, Cork. Another cult whose multi-layered character has much to teach about the adoption and adaptation of ideas is that of St George, explored in text and image, with useful links, by James Eason at the University of Chicago.


Virtual Religion Index compiled by the Religion Department of Rutgers University.

Religion, presenting a selection of texts from the major world religions.

Hindunet, an encyclopaedic overview of Hinduism.

Arches is a starting place for explorations of Islam.

Research Guide for Christianity, prepared by Yale Divinity School Library.

Early Christian Studies Resource Page duplicates a good number of the links provided here, but gives access to others as well as excellent summary descriptions of the sites included.

Resources for Catholic Educators: History has copious links, designed for Roman Catholic teachers by Gilles Côté, Religious Education Coordinator at Immaculata Regional High School, Kelowna, British Columbia.

The Tablet weekly news magazine maintains a page of links to official and unofficial Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other sites.

Guide to Early Church Documents, compiled by the Internet Christian Library (earlier the Institute for Christian Leadership).

Historical Jesus, Mark Goodacre's site at the University of Birmingham.

Medieval-religion, message archive of the Medieval-religion Internet discussion group up to November 2000. For messages since then, go to Jiscmail.

Guide to Medieval Christian Spirituality - a compendium of useful links maintained by Scott DeGregor of the University of Toronto, Medieval Studies Centre.

Monastic Studies, the web-page of the Alcuin and Clemens Libraries at the College of St Benedict and St John's University. As well as text and image resources arranged by period, the page has links to a number of relevant sites.

Monasteries for women, a resources page constructed by Katrinette Bodarwe of the Rheinische-Friedrich-Wilhelm-Universitaet, Bonn. Currently in German, but an English translation is planned.



The Throne of Wisdom. One of the various portrayals of the Mother of God, drawing on Byzantine influence, found widely in the lands bordering the western Mediterranean. This twelfth- to thirteenth-century wooden sculpture is exhibited in the Municipal Gallery of Spello, near Assisi. The enthroned type of image generated references to Mary's lap as the Throne of Wisdom and can be traced back to a sixth-century icon at Mount Sinai or the apse mosaic of the Basilica Euphrasiana in Parenzo (Porec) of c.550. As late as c. 1485 the Throne of Wisdom image influenced Giovanni Bellini in his San Giobbe altarpiece.

Madonna and Child. As the so-called High Middle Ages were reached, more relaxed, 'human' images of Mary and her child became popular. This wooden sculpture of the sixteenth century is Our Lady of Spella, on display at the Municipal Gallery of Spello, near Assisi. As Jim Buslag of the University of Manitoba has generously pointed out to me, this is a full-length version of the Theotokos Hodegetria, whose popularity grew in Europe in the later thirteenth and fourteenth centuries with the rise of Italian devotional painted panels (a direct importation from Byzantium). This Marian image, too, can be found very early, for example in the seventh-century Cypriot apse mosaic in Panagia Angeloktistos church, Kiti.


Mary's Gardens, a survey of Marian floral attributes and allusions.

Matrix, a collection of resources for the study of women's religious communities, 500-1500. Matrix is an on-going project currently based at Yale University. Its resources include a searchable compendium of information about individual religious communities across the Christian world, plus databanks of images, maps, site-plans and biographies. The compiling and manangement of Matrix is supervised and guided by an international team of scholars.

Peregrina. This site accesses the cottage-industry achievement of a single person, Peregrina Publishing, devoted to female spirituality. It also provides useful links to other sites, including some of interest to students of the Orthodox world. Be warned: this site occasionally takes some time to down-load.

Apparitions, a checklist of officially-recognised visions of Christ and his Mother

Ancient History Sourcebook. This companion to Paul Halsall's Medieval Sourcebook provides links to collections of texts and images relative to the Ancient World but also including much that is useful for an understanding of the beginnings of Christianity.

Esglesia is a huge, well-ordered directory site (available in Spanish or Catalan but easily followed within a working knowledge of either language) providing links to many hundreds of Roman Catholic organisations and communities, including monastic houses.

Christmas legends, traditions and images.

Christian Legends and Symbols includes useful links to Christian and other material. Compiled by Suzetta Tucker.


Below, right: The world we have lost? A hermit with his capelleta, photographed in Roussillon, the Catalan-speaking region of southern France around Perpignan, in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Photographs of such 'capelletas' have been published by Roland Serres, a scholar of 'popular' religion in northern Catalunya, in his survey, Chapelles et Eglises Oubliees de la Catalogne Nord (Conflent, Guide Touristique, 1988).

Biblical Studies is a site devoted to on-line resources for the study of the early church.

Psuedepigrapha, the home site of the St Andrews course in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, which includes a excellent set of links to textual and other resource sites pertinent to early Christian and late Antique religious studies.

Pagan and Christian Rome, Rodolfo Lanciani's seminal work, republished by Bill Thayer, is available via a link from this site.

Gregorian Chant - a site for medieval musicology based at Princeton University.

CANTUS, the Gregorian Chant Divine Office database developed at the Catholic University of America and now maintained at the University of Western Ontario. The database can be searched for liturgical use of Latin words and phrases.

The Calendar Site, compiled at Stanford University, provides calculations of moveable feasts for any year and much else of practical use in consideration of matters calendrical.

Historical Ecclesiastical Calendar gives Julian as well as Gregorian dates, feast days, and much else, interactively.

Calendar site of O. Lieberknecht.

Calculation of the Ecclesiastical Calendar, with links and other material, compiled by Marcos J. Montes.

Chronology page of the UK genealogy site, GENUKI.


Pilgrimage is a universal and essential aspect of religious culture. Here pilgrims gather round the Ka'aba at Mecca during the annual hajj. Photograph by Stone published in The Independent newspaper, November 14, 2001.


Pilgrimage at the Christianity and Culture site, University of York.

Pilgrimage - pages from the University College, Cork, site detailing the July 2000 interdisciplinary conference, 'Pilgrimage: Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago, Ireland'.

Santiago web-links

Sacred Places and the Place of the Sacred in Medieval Europe is the title of a course run by Dr Karen Jolly at Hawaii University.

The Shrine of St Michael at Gargano, where traditionally the Christianisation of an earlier healing shrine took place c. 490, associated with an apparition of St Michael through the agency of a white bull. An excellently constructed and informative site.

The Gallo-Roman Sanctuary at Grand, where Apollo succeeded the Gallic deity Grannos, and subsequently Apollo was displaced by St Libaire.

Pardons de Bretagne, images on postcards from the start of the twentieth century.

Louvain procession of the statue of the Virgin Mary

Relics in the possession of Franciscan brothers, with links to other 'relics' pages. A site maintained by Brother Anthony of Shanley School.

Journeys to Jerusalem has on-line pilgrimage texts and images, collected for students of the University of Southern Colorado.


Below, right: Continuing the theme of animal-headed figures, this is a feature of some of the thirty-six 'dekans' (Mesopotamian powers of the universe) engraved on to this ivory astrological disc with Old Coptic text, found in pieces in a well at the incubative Romano-Gallic and subsequently Christian shrine of Grand in Lorraine. The URL of the Grand web-site is listed below.

Anthropology on the Net is a resources and links site maintained at Bilkent University, Turkey

Myth and Folklore, a useful list of links to material of anthropological and ethnological interest

Katy Jordan's Home Page, includes a gazetteer of holy wells in Wiltshire, compiled at the University of Bath.

R.C.Hope's Holy Wells of England scanned by the owner of a 'Neopagan' site but in facsimile form, unedited by the site-owner.

Millenium: A 'poppy' look but with serious academic material for Millenial Studies

The Fish - an example of the use of number as a theological construct. Compare the theories of David Howlett of the Oxford Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources about number in composition.


The Bible, the Revised Standard Version from the University of Virginia on-line texts site

The books of the Apocrypha, on-line, also from the Bible2000 site

Pseudepigraphal and apocryphal texts also from Bible2000

Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism, an interdisciplinary seminar designed as an internet version of an ongoing research seminar of the graduate students and scholars at the Department of Theology of Marquette University (Milwaukee, USA). The site explores the influence of Jewish Pseudepigrapha and Merkabah mysticism on Eastern Orthodox authors.

Gnostic texts on-line from the Gnostic Society library

The Gnostic Society library includes Christian apochryphal texts.

Zoroastrian religion: texts, images, general information, and relevant links.


Radical Catholic Page

PARTENIA, the home page of a radical Roman Catholic bishop


Organisations engaged in, or supporting research into medieval religion

Fondazione Franceschini and SISMEL
AISSCA, the Italian hagiographical society

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Last updated: 24 December 2002 16:04
Dr G.R. Jones

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