Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs


Product Details

$29.95  $27.85
Thames & Hudson
Publish Date
6.9 X 9.5 X 0.9 inches | 1.85 pounds

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About the Author

Paul Koudounaris received his doctorate from the art history department at UCLA. His previous books include The Empire of Death and Heavenly Bodies. He lives in Los Angeles.


Photographer and author Paul Koudounaris gained unprecedented access to these so-called 'catacomb saints' for his new book Heavenly Bodies. Many had never been photographed for publication before. Revered as spiritual objects and then reviled as a source of embarrassment for the Church, their uneven history is marked by one constant: a mysterious, if unsettling, beauty.-- "CNN.com"
Smart and accessible, Heavenly Bodies opens the door to this largely overlooked aspect of the Counter Reformation era.-- "Hi-Fructose"
Prepared to be amazed by the splendor and beauty of ornamented skeletal remains.-- "Palm Springs Life"
Koudounaris takes his subject beyond historical rubbernecking and looks at how bodies can move the spirit--and why we can't let go and can't look away.-- "The North Coast Journal"
Brings to life a group of long-forgotten Catholic relics.-- "Lapham's Quarterly"
Investigates the historic attempts to prescribe posthumous identities to skeletons, specifically those believed to be martyrs.-- "Vice.com"
Oh, you didn't know the skeletons of martyrs were unabashedly decked out in gems? Welcome to the club.-- "BuzzFeed"
Focuses on the life and history of a set of false relics in the Catholic Church.-- "The Desert Sun"
The images of the catacomb saints are dazzling, almost beyond belief.-- "Publishers Weekly"
This macabre mash-up of camp and Catholicism features nearly 100 drop-dead images of blinged-out skeletons.-- "Passport Magazine"
A strange and fascinating book exploring bejeweled Counter Reformation Catholic Skeletons.-- "American Society of Jewelry Historians"
Magnificently illustrated. . . . An illuminating read for jewelry historians and gemologists alike.-- "Gems and Gemology"
The photography by Koudounaris is outstanding. He was given access that most tourists touting a camera are not.-- "Examiner.com"
Koudounaris is one of the first people to photograph the strangely stunning skeletons that have been rediscovered over the years. And while he can't speak to their authenticity as saints, he does believe that they are extraordinary works of art that deserve to be seen.-- "People.com"
In telling the story of these extraordinary relics, Koudounaris makes a case for them as neglected masterpieces of religious art. . . . Koudounaris uncovers a lost world of religious devotion, in which sanctified remains could control the weather, save souls from purgatory, and serve as all-purpose patrons.-- "Los Angeles Review of Books"
These macabre images elicit a range of contemporary references, from Goonies to bling-laden rappers to artist Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted skull.-- "Wired.com"
Perhaps this book is not the originator of the phrase 'skeletons in your closet, ' but if it were, that closet would be looking quite stupendous.-- "Dazed Digital"
An art historian nicknamed 'Indiana Bones' has unearthed a haunting collection of jewel-encrusted skeletons which were hidden in churches in Europe up to 400 years ago.-- "New York Post"
A compelling read. . . . The gorgeous photos that accompany the text only reaffirm the opulence of such relics.-- "Gothic Beauty"