Project information

Radikální konverze? Vizuální umění, rituály, performance a konverze v raně křesťanské iniciaci (BR)

Project Identification
Project Period
10/2019 - 9/2024
Investor / Pogramme / Project type
Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the CR
MU Faculty or unit
Faculty of Arts

This project focuses on the place of artistic culture and performative rituals in adult initiation, conversion and possible radicalization between the 4th and 6th centuries. This period of total Christianization of the Roman empire corresponds to a unique moment in European culture and history. Baptism was the focal moment of acceptance in Christian society. The first encounter with the community was followed by pre-baptismal vows. The psychological impact of the ritual was remarkable. Its dramatic “staging” in an attentively designed setting deeply impressed the converted and at the same time could lure pagans. The meaning of the ritual would be clarified by post-ritual rational explanations. The impact of Christian initiation on society was heterogeneous, giving rise to mystic and even violent reactions, or to sober conduct.
Our main objective is to understand how rituals transformed the experience of initiation and sometimes led to the radicalization of religious beliefs. We will take into account evidence such as extant baptisteries, pre- and post-baptismal zones, their inner decorative and liturgical apparatuses, their lighting, liturgy, acoustics, etc., with the aim of deciphering how these material, visual, multi-sensory “tools” were deployed to mediate conversion. We will research the range of possible impacts of initiatory rituals on past and contemporary societies by reflecting on the anthropological mechanisms behind conversion.
Therefore, we will investigate: 1) the role of spaces, images, liturgical furnishings, sound and ritual in conversion; 2) the dating or re-dating through scientific methods of all monuments studied; 3) the instruments of persuasion used. Analyzing visual, artistic, and performative tools of conversion, we aim to understand not only the phenomenon of radical conversion in Late Antiquity, but also the current issue of religious radicalism in our society.


Total number of publications: 1