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Interview with a Taphophile: Medievalist Matt

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

With our 3rd installment of 'Interview with a Taphophile', we are grateful to Dr. Matt Ponesse for coming on the Podcast and talking to us about his specialty; Medieval times!

Skull of St. Valentine

One of Matt's studies is called Hagiography. Which is the holy writings and ancient texts regarding saints lives.

Hagiography was an important thing in the early Christian Church, providing some informational history along with the more inspirational stories and legends. A hagiographic account of saint can be a biography, a description of the saint's deeds or miracles, or an account of the saint's martyrdom or any combination of these.

In Western Europe, hagiography was one of the more important vehicles for the study of inspirational history during the Middle Ages.

Which leads us to Relics of Saints. In the study of religion, relics are objects that connect modern worshippers to their past. They have a sacred status, and cannot and are not treated like other ancient artifacts, because they transcend the earthly realm. They traditionally are objects or artifacts from history that have great religious meaning for a group of believers, and can be the personal effects of the saint or the actual venerated person preserved to serve as a tangible memorial. Sometimes this may be a skull, or even just a finger! Relics are an important aspect of many religions.

San Gennaro's relics in crypt (Cathedral of Naples)

These are reliquaries, or for us non-Doctors of Medieval history, containers for relics!

An image depicting the translation of the relics of St. Mark.

This tomb (The Arundel Tomb of Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel, and his wife Eleanor) reminds me of my story of the Chaste lovers.

Here's a few examples of Matt's Medieval wit on Instagram!

Thank you Matt Ponesse for all of you knowledge and medieval fun this week!

Matthew Ponesse, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of History at Ohio Dominican.

He received his Bachelors degree with majors in history and philosophy at the University of Toronto. He then pursued graduate work at the University of Toronto's Centre for Medieval Studies, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in the field of Medieval Studies. 

Dr. Ponesse regularly offers courses in European History, the history of the Middle Ages, and Latin. He also teaches in the Core curriculum and the Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies program. In 2006, he was the recipient of the Conley Award in recognition for outstanding teaching and dedication to students.

Dr. Ponesse's research focuses on the education and practice of monks in eighth and ninth centuries. He also publishes articles on the transmission and reception of patristic learning in Carolingian Europe.

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