Land, fertility rites and the veneration of female saints: Exploring body rituals at the Tomb of Mary in Jerusalem

Nurit Stadler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article explores the connections between rituals, embodiment, and territorial claims by taking stock of Christian Orthodox rites at the Tomb of Mary in Jerusalem. As part of a comprehensive ethnography of this shrine, I have examined a wide array of body-based female practices that revolve around Mary's tomb. By rejuvenating embodied practices that are associated with fertility, parturition and maternity, devotees enlist the grottos womb-like interior as a platform for kissing, touching, crawling, bending, and other physical acts of devotion that make for a powerful body-based experience. As demonstrated herein, the mimetic journey of a fetus/pilgrim through this womb-tomb expanse elicits a sense of rebirth, which is analogous to reclaiming the land and establishing a "motherly" alternative to the masculine and bellicose disposition in Israel/Palestine.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)293-316
Number of pages24
JournalAnthropological Theory
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2015.

Keywords

  • Body based rituals
  • Ethnography
  • Jerusalem
  • Orthodox Christianity
  • Tomb of Mary
  • embodiment
  • territoriality
  • womb-tomb

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Land, fertility rites and the veneration of female saints: Exploring body rituals at the Tomb of Mary in Jerusalem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this