December 2021: Online Conference — “Profiling Saints”

“Profiling Saints: Understanding the Theological and Cultural Foundations of Catholic Hagiographical Models (1500s–1900s)” is an online conference taking place between December 15 and 17, 2021. The event is organized by Elisa Frei of University of Macerata/Boston College and Eleanora Rai of KU Leuven. It is free and open to the public, via Zoom ( ; Passcode: 1622).


The full schedule appears below.


Wednesday 15th, 2021 (CET)

3.15 pm – 3.30 pm

Elisa Frei and Eleonora Rai (University of Macerata/Boston College and KU Leuven)

Welcome and Introduction


3.30 pm – 4.30 pm
Franco Motta (University of Turin)
Keynote Lecture
Sanctity and Modernity: Opposition or Agreement
Discussant: Michela Catto (University of Turin)


4.30 pm – 5.00 pm
Round Table


5 pm – 5.15 pm


5.15 pm – 6.45 pm
Session 1: Hagiography in Images: the Jesuits
Chair: Tom Santa Maria (Yale University)

Grace Harpster (Georgia State University)
Super Centum Martyres: The Jesuit Martyr Portrait Series before 1622

Steffen Zierholz (University of Tübingen)
Allegories of Light and Fire: Ignatian Effigies Painted on Copper

Rachel Miller (California State University, Sacramento)
The First Apostle of Japan: St. Francis Xavier’s Japanese Ministry in European and Latin American Art


Thursday 16th, 2021 (CET)

3 pm – 4 pm
Session 2: The 1622 Founders’ Canonizations
Chair: Elisa Frei (University of Macerata/Boston College)

Tom Santa Maria (Yale University)
The Ideal Founder Saint? Philip Neri and the Oratorian Quest for Holiness

Robert A. Maryks (City University of New York)
Making Jesuit Saint—Making Jesuit Myth: Ignatius of Loyola and his Early Hagiography


4 pm – 4.15 pm


4.15 pm – 5.45 pm
Session 3: Virtues of Saints: Japan and Ethiopia
Chair: Sabina Pavone (University of Macerata)

Elisa Frei (University of Macerata/Boston College)
Francis Xavier’s Sanctity in the Relatio Rotae (1619) and Daniello Bartoli’s Asia (1653)

Leonardo Cohen (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
Patience, Suffering and Tolerance: The Experience of Defeat and Exile among the Jesuits of Ethiopia (1632–1659

Carlo Pelliccia (CHAM — Centro de Humanidades, Universidade Nova de Lisboa and CLEPUL, Universidade de Lisboa)
Saints, Relics and Devotion: the European Experience of the Young Japanese Ambassadors (1584-1586)


Friday 17th, 2021 (CET)

1 pm – 2.30 pm
Session 4: Strategies of Sanctity
Chair: Antonio Gerace (Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose “Giovanni XXIII”/KU Leuven)

Carla Tronu Montané (Kansai University of Foreign Studies)
Historical Memory and Models of Sanctity: An Overview of the Martyrs of Japan

Beatrice Saletti (University of Ferrara)
Lucia Broccadelli da Narni in Ferrara: a Decided-in-Advance Saint Between Policy Needs and Community Realities

Stefan Samerski (University of Berlin)
What about Saints of the French Revolution? Canonization and Beatification after 1789


2.30 pm – 2.45 pm


2.45 pm – 3.45
Session 5: Theology and Sanctity in the Flanders
Chair: Wim François (KU Leuven)

Antonio Gerace (Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose “Giovanni XXIII”/KU Leuven)
From Book to Images: Theology and Sixteenth-century Works-of-art in Southern Low Countries

Eleonora Rai (KU Leuven)
Victim of his Own Doctrine: Leonard Lessius the Saint, Leonard Lessius the Heretic (1500s-1900s)


3.45 pm – 4.45 pm
Session 6: Martyrdom and the Jesuits
Chair: Eleonora Rai

Emanuele Colombo (DePaul University)
Jesuits and the Desire for Martyrdom

Jean-Pascal Gay (UC Louvain)
Finding Martyrs at Home? Jesuit Attempts at Redefining Martyrdom in the Seventeenth Century and Their Censure


4.45 pm – 5 pm


5 pm – 6 pm
Simon Ditchfield (University of York)
Keynote Lecture
Exemplary Lives in the Making of a World Religion
Discussant: Camilla Russell (Sapienza University/Newcastle University, AU)


6 pm – 6.30 pm
Round Table and Conclusions