From vision to cult site. A comparative perspective
SourceArchives de Sciences Sociales des Religions, 55, 151, (2010), pp. 71-90
Article / Letter to editor
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FSW_Institute for Gender Studies (IGS)
SW OZ RSCR CAOS
Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies; Dynamics of gender
Visions of the Virgin Mary stand at the origin of many cult sites. At times they have led to impressive pilgrimage centres such as Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal, or Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but elsewhere they were remembered only in local chapels or by small groups of devotees. This raises the question as to what conditions are necessary for a vision to lead to a sacralisation of space. Historians and social scientists have usually focussed on the famous cult sites when researching the various processes that influenced the physicalization and development of a sacred site, while neglecting to pay attention to lesser known visions and sites. In this article the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Sister Marie Alphonsine in 1874-1875 in Bethlehem and Jerusalem will be analysed. Its effects will be compared to those of the visions in Lourdes, Fatima or Medjugorje, in order to understand better the conditions under which cult sites might flourish.
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