Dissertation Defense: Melisa Palermo

"Charity" (La Caritá) by Carlo Dolci, 1659
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Herring Hall, Room 126

"Cor ad cor loquitur, Burning Hearts and the Iconography of Divine Charity"

Studying the iconographic progression of Divine Love (caritas Dei), Melisa Palermo’s research reveals how the allegorical personification allowed for a proliferation of “heart-bearing” saints known as cardiophori. The emergence of these saints reflects the spiritual and artistic concerns of the Catholic Church in the period after the Council of Trent. To possess this caritas was to achieve the highest form of union with God and this was a concept open to all. The images encourage the laity in this pursuit. The ultimate heart-bearer is Jesus offering his Sacred Heart. Her study reveals how, during the seventeenth century, the heart became an attribute of both Counter-Reformation and much earlier saints. Without this development, the now-iconic image of Jesus bearing (and offering) his heart would have been nearly impossible.