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Fragmentation and MemoryMeditations on Christian Doctrine$
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Karmen MacKendrick

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780823229499

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823229499.001.0001

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Dismembered Divinity: Saints' Relics

Dismembered Divinity: Saints' Relics

(p.106) 5 Dismembered Divinity: Saints' Relics
Fragmentation and Memory

Karmen MacKendrick

Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses the relics of saints, their paradoxical play between fragmentation and wholeness, vitality and mortality, sacrality and profanity, and the kinds of memory at work in the display and understanding of these bodily bits, the kinds of temporality thus evoked. Relics, while no longer central to the structure of churches or most habits of worship, retain a persistent fascination. They literalize the body's fragmentation, but they also suggest a peculiar persistence of wholeness. The three experiences of memory evoked here are: historical, communal, and sacred. The chapter argues that each draws other times into a slippery present; each draws fullness of life into a fragment (of time and flesh both), and each unsettles the notions of identity as a tidy individuality.

Keywords:   saint's relics, wholeness, mortality, sacrality, experience, memory

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