Marianne Ritsema van Eck

Postdoctoral Fellow - Det norske institutt i Roma
Image of Marianne Ritsema van Eck
Norwegian version of this page
Mobile phone 0039 06 5839 1010
Visiting address Viale Trenta Aprile 33 00153 Roma
Postal address Viale Trenta Aprile 33 00153 Roma

Courses taught

Academic interests

I am a historian of religion specialized in late medieval and early modern period, with a particular interest in religious expressions at the intersection of visual, material, and textual culture. My areas of expertise are Franciscan studies, the cult of the saints, pilgrimage and travel to the Middle East, historical cartography, and Italian sacri monti.

As Postdoctoral Fellow at the Norwegian Institute in Rome, I develop the project St Helena and the city of Rome: re-inventing the late antique Christian past in early modernity (ca. 1450-1650).

This project investigates the social, ideological, and political agendas behind the creation of an innovative early-Christian topography for the city of Rome in early modernity (ca. 1450-1650) through the figure of Empress Helena (ca. 250-330). While previously there had been few links between Helena and Rome, new heritage locations and histories were being invented in early modernity. The project addresses the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this process, which have remained unexplored so far, because historians and art historians have focused either on texts or images. Therefore, I chart the development of the Roman Helena legend by studying material culture (sacred sites and objects) and textual culture (stories) in tandem. Moreover, this legend offers an excellent case study to assess how history may be re-written through a complex cross-fertilization between stories, iconic objects and locations. 


    Before coming to the Norwegian Institute in Rome, I was assistant professor in medieval history at Leiden University in the Netherlands. In June 2017 I defended my PhD dissertation at the University of Amsterdam with the distinction cum laude.

    In my first book, The Holy Land in Observant Franciscan Texts (Brill 2019), I analyse the development of the complex Observant Franciscan engagement with the Holy Land during the early modern period. I am developing a second book project about Franciscan sacri monti in Italy (c. 1250-1700).



    • The Holy Land in Observant Franciscan Texts (c. 1480–1650): Theology, Travel, and Territoriality. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2019.

    Journal articles 

    book chapters

    Public engagement




    Tags: Medieval Studies, Early Modern Period, Rome, Religionshistorie, Visual Culture, Material Culture


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    Published Sep. 8, 2021 10:17 AM - Last modified Nov. 24, 2022 2:43 PM