Minou Schraven


François Chevalier Fellow

A specialist in the artistic and material cultures of early modern Rome, Minou Schraven studied art history and Italian Language and Literature at Leiden University. Following her dissertation on funeral apparati at the early modern papal court, she developed a postdoctoral project on the ritual functions of portrait medals and coins in early modern foundation ceremonies. Over the years, Minou has published widely on topics such as processions and festival culture in early modern Rome; the material aspects of the foundation ceremonies of the Ponte Sisto in Rome, and the Stadhuis (now Royal Palace) of Amsterdam; and lifelike reconstructions of human remains in contemporary museum displays. She has been awarded research fellowships at the Warburg Institute in London, the Getty Research Center in Los Angeles, and most recently, the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. Her current research project, housed at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, is focused on religious material culture, particularly blessed and indulgenced objects in Catholic worlds, and issues of materiality, mobility and anxiety. She teaches art history and material culture at Amsterdam University College, an international Liberal Arts and Science program.



This project looks into a generation of early modern Spanish mystics, known and vilified for distributing blessed devotional objects, such as prayer beads, rosaries and small crucifixes. As these women claimed that the objects had been blessed in Heaven by Christ Himself, their activities incurred growing suspicion from church authorities and the Inquisition, resulting in several trials.

The blessing activities of Spanish mystics, such as Juana de la Cruz (1481-1534) and Luísa de la Ascensión (1565-1636) constitute an intriguing case study within my book project about indulgenced objects in early modern Catholic worlds. While church authorities actively encouraged devotion to blessed and indulgenced objects, they became outright intolerant towards any individual that blessed and distributed objects on their own account. While in Madrid, I plan to learn how female mystics understood their access to the celestial realm where the blessing activities took place. How did their activities challenge official doctrines about indulgenced objects; and to what extent were these mystics connected to larger networks of patronage across the Catholic world? Besides demonstrating that controversies over sainthood, indulgences and indulgenced objects were far from over, this research project proposes a reassessment of female spirituality and patronage in shaping post-Tridentine religiosity.



- 2021. “Miracle-Working Portraits of a Cardinal Saint. Managing the Devotional Medals of S. Carlo Borromeo in Early Modern Italy”, in Piers Baker Bates, Irene Brooke (eds), Portrait Cultures of the Early Modern Cardinal, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, pp. 319-342.

- 2021. “Likeness and Likeability. Lifelike Reconstructions, Human Remains and Audience Response in Museum Displays”, in Jennifer J. Wagelie, Bridget R. Cooks (eds), Mannequins and Museums. Mankind on Display, London, Routledge, pp. 45-61.

- 2018. “Roma Theatrum Mundi. Public Rituals and Festivals in the Early Modern Period", in Simon Ditchfield, Pamela Jones and Barbara Wisch (eds.), A Companion to Early Modern Rome 1482-1692, Leiden, Brill, pp. 247-265.

- 2014. Festive Funerals in Early Modern Italy. The Art and Culture of Conspicuous Commemoration, Aldershot: Ashgate.

- 2012. Foundation, Dedication and Consecration in Early Modern Europe, co-edited with Maarten Delbeke; Leiden, Brill.