Changing Senses of Sacrality. Objects, Beliefs and Performances from the Medieval to the Early Modern Era

Relics and other religious objects have been re-evaluated during recent decades in Medieval and Early Modern Era studies. Changes in religious thinking, theology, and materiality influenced the ways in which both the laity and the clergy viewed sacrality and transcendence from the Medieval to the Early Modern Era. Today these objects might belong to a museum collection, or continue to play a part in religious rituals. The conference “Changing Senses of Sacrality. Objects, Beliefs, and Performances from the Medieval to the Early Modern Era” participates in the ongoing discussion with a special emphasis on northern Europe.

In order to contribute to the discussion on sacrality from the Medieval to the Early Modern Era and to mark the Jarl Gallén Prize 2016, Thure Galléns stiftelse together with Glossa, the Society for Medieval Studies in Finland, Centre for Nordic Studies at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Helsinki, and Swedish Historical Society in Finland have organized a conference with the title “Changing Senses of Sacrality. Objects, Beliefs and Performances from the Medieval to the Early Modern Era” 1-2 December 2016.

The aim of this conference is to look at different aspects of sacrality in the period, with the emphasis on northern Europe but not excluding other areas. The papers can deal with (but are not restricted to):

  • use of devotional objects and artifacts (relics, reliquaries, art works, books etc.) before and after the sixteenth-century reformations
  • materialization of sacred thoughts into different material and immaterial objects
  • performative aspects (i.e. music, arts, theater) on sacredness and sacrality
  • changes in rituals and ritualization
  • interaction of folk beliefs with academic theology
  • the ways in which these changes were contributed to and distributed

The speakers invited to the conference are:

  • Professor Lena Liepe (University of Oslo)
  • Professor Lars Boje Mortensen (University of Southern Denmark)
  • Assistant professor Visa Immonen (University of Helsinki)

The general public is welcome to the second day of the conference (2.12.2016), when the Vice-Rector Anna Mauranen of the University of Helsinki will award the 5th Jarl Gallén prize for a distinguished scholar in the field of medieval history of Northern Europe to Professor Lena Liepe (University of Oslo). In relation to this event the prize winner will give a Studia Generalia lecture. The conference also marks the 20th anniversary of Glossa.

Scholars working on these topics are warmly invited to present a paper (not exceeding 20 minutes) in English. To submit a paper, please send the title and a short abstract (about 200 words) to changingsacrality[at]

Contact Info: Karolina Kouvola, Secretary for the conference: karolina.kouvola[at]