Oral History and the Afterlives of Devotional Objects in the Abbey of Saint Godelieve (Bruges) by Dr. Tianna Uchacz (Columbia University)

From 1623 to 2013, the Benedictine Sisters of Saint Godelieve Abbey prayed and worked among an array of fine objects integral to daily life and devotion. These included late medieval reliquaries and sculptures; sixteenth-century devotional paintings, printed books, and processional banners; Baroque croziers, choirstalls, and silverwork; and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century tin, ceramic, and glasswork. This rich material culture attests to the long history of the community, whose first home was Gistel's Ten Putte Abbey (est. ca. 1100), built on the site of Saint Godelieve's martyrdom. The sisters fled Gistel in the religious and political conflicts of the late sixteenth century, seeking refuge in nearby Bruges and bringing with them what they could. In their eventual home on the Boeveriestraat, they continued to collect, make, care for, and use skilfully crafted works in living devotional practice. The closure of the complex in December 2013 brought this living engagement with the Abbey and its historical artworks to an end. Since May 2019, the Afterlives Project has begun to document the way the sisters moved through the space, and handled and understood the historical works in their former home, focusing first on the Abbess, Sr. Sabien Bousson. This talk presents the Project, its aims, use of oral history interviews as a method for art history, and first results.

About Tianna Helena Uchacz
Tianna Helena Uchacz is a Postdoctoral Scholar and Lecturer in the Department of History at Columbia University. Her research focuses on the body and the senses in early modern Netherlandish art and culture-the varieties and resonances of the depicted body, embodied cognition in artisanal practice, and the sensory apprehension of art.

More information
The lecture takes place on 18 June 2019 in the Saint Godelieve Abbey, Boeveriestraat 45, Bruges.

The lecture (in English) is preceded by a tour of the abbey rooms. Free acces (a small contribution to the abbey is welcome though). Please sign up for the tour and/or lecture via mail (maximum of 30 persons). The guided tour starts at 5 p.m. sharp, the lecture at 6 p.m. 


(nieuwsbericht 2 juni 2019)