Divine Presence in Spain and Western Europe 1500–1960

Visions, Religious Images and Photographs
$30.95 / €26.95 / £22.95
Publication date: 
328 pages, ca. 170 black-and-white illustrations

This study addresses the relation of people to divine beings in contemporary and historical communities, as exemplified in three strands. One is a long tradition of visions of mysterious wayfarers in rural Spain who bring otherworldly news and help, including recent examples. Another treats the seeming vivification of religious imagesstatues, paintings, engravings, and photographs apparently exuding blood, sweat and tears in Spanish homes and churches  in the early modern period and the revival of the phenomenon throughout Europe in the twentieth century.  Of special interest is the third strand of the book: the transposition of medieval and early modern representations of the relations between humans and the divine into the modern art of photography. Christian presents a pictorial examination of the phenomenon with a large number of religious images, commercial postcards and family photographs from the first half of past century Europe.


Chapter 1. Toribia del Val and the Mysterious Wayfarer of Casas de Benítez

Chapter 2. Images as Beings: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Chapter 3. Presence, Absence and the Supernatural in Postcard and Family Photographs, Europe 1895-1920




"In weaving together various visualizations, the author documents the varieties and longevity of the sacred in the Christian imagination, and reminds us that what we see is determined to a large degree by what we want to see. Seeing unseen things, encountering heavenly visitors, and witnessing images responding to human requests have all been normative for most of European history, and Christian’s rich book does us all a favor by repeatedly insisting on the naturalness of these divine yet material presences"