The process of reconciliation after 40 years of communist regime in the former German Democratic Republic did not really get started 20 years ago, although many collaborators with the secret police lost their jobs. What is the aftermath of these shortcomings? This is a short report on arguments from earlier colleagues in Theology working in former GDR on their reflections looking back. Both professors who were sacked and some who were restored or even applauded into the Universities after «die Wende» are parts of the discussion. Are there shortcuts to reconciliation?
Fabrications of sacred places with the use of stories, documents and relics, played a major role in the 16th century, where falsity and fakery were endemic. Such stories do not necessarily have to be strictly true in a historical sense, but they have to be experienced as truths, by someone. Or as David Lowenthal puts it: «Heritage the world over not only tolerates but thrives and even requires historical error. Falsified legacies are integral to the exclusive purpose of group identity.» This paper takes its point of departure in some findings of relics, parchments, and lead books in the years between 1588 and 1595 at Torre Turpiana and Sacromonte in Granada. The texts were written in Castilian, Latin and Arabic and contained narratives about the visit of St. James in Granada in the year 40 AD, accompanied by St. Cecilio, the Patron Saint of Granada, apocalyptic messages and revelations from Virgin Mary. The use of Arabic letters could indicate that the Morisco inhabitants, descendants of Muslims (forcibly) converted to Christianity, were involved. They were at the threshold of expulsion, and could these texts be interpreted as a defence of their rights to be members of the Spanish society? The paper also has a focus on the relations between Islam and Christendom, between Muslims and Christians. Do the texts reflect syncretistic endeavours, were they an attempt to persuade the Moriscos to be real Catholics, or were they part of a strategy thought up by Muslims seeking to penetrate Christianity and change it from within? Or were the Moriscos just trying to appear as good and faithful Christian Spaniards?
The contributions which follow will discuss, in a double perspective, an outstanding «pictorial source» relevant to Early Byzantine art and church story. The material on which we focus has been known to scholars for more than a century, though not in its entirety, for valuable details, decisive for its correct assessment, have emerged with greater clarity only during recent decades. These details add fresh arguments to a discourse that had its inception in the years 1900-1901, when the church of S. Maria Antiqua at the Forum Romanum was excavated and the first descriptions of its frescoes reached the world of scholarship.
Keywords: Byzantine art, Early medieval iconography, Rome, Church art