Leonardo, Andrea, Tine, Thomas and Kristof

Tine Van Osselaer is research professor in the history of spirituality, devotion and mysticism at the Ruusbroec Institute of the University of Antwerp. In the last years, she has published on gender and religion (The pious sex. Catholic constructions of masculinity and femininity in Belgium, c.1800-1940, 2013); and edited volumes on religion and medicine (Sign or Symptom? Exceptional corporeal phenomena in religion and medicine in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 2017) religion and the family (Christian homes. Religion, family and domesticity in the 19th and 20th centuries, 2014), religion in the Great War (themed issue of Trajecta. Religion, Culture and Society in the Low Countries, 23.2, 2014) and on corporeality and emotions (themed issue of Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 126.4, 2013). Currently, she is the principal investigator of STIGMATICS: ‘Between saints and celebrities. The devotion and promotion of stigmatics in Europe, c.1800-1950’, a project sponsored by the European Research Council (Starting Grant).

Research interests:

  • Gender and religion
  • Domesticity, family and religion
  • Religion and science/knowledge systems
  • Corporeality and emotions
  • History of pain
  • Religion and war
  • Celebrity culture, media and religion

Andrea Graus
holds a PhD in the History of Science from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2015), specializing in the history of the human sciences and with a particular interest in the interplay between science and religion. Her thesis explored psychical research and spiritism in Spain at the turn of the twentieth century from a European transnational perspective.

She is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Ruusbroec Institute (Universiteit Antwerpen), working in the ERC-funded project STIGMATICS. She examines the French and Spanish contexts from a bottom-up perspective, focusing on the popular perception of the stigmatics and their social construction as ‘living saints’.

Research interests (19th-20th C., esp. France and Spain)

  • Mysticism and popular devotion
  • Science and religion
  • History of hypnosis
  • Psychical research and spiritism
  • History of psychology
  • Boundary-work


Leonardo Rossi studied Historical Science at the University of Florence where he has graduated with a degree thesis titled ‘From “De regimine principum” to “De ecclesiastica potestate”: the theological-political path in Giles of Rome’ (Rome, 1243/44 – Avignon, 1316). He has analyzed the philosophical and theological works of the Augustinian friar, sustaining that they had a specific political message (to support the ‘plenitudo potestatis’ of the Pope and his hierocratic project).

Since September 2015, Leonardo Rossi has participated as Ph.D. student in the ERC project STIGMATICS, supervisor: prof. dr. Tine Van Osselaer. He is studying Italian stigmatics cases, the beatification and sanctification processes and, more generally, the Vatican response to the cults. His focus is on the relationship between popular devotion and political resignification of the worship made by the Church. Particular attention is given to published and archival sources, the lay and – above all – Catholic mass media.

Kristof Smeyers
graduated in Cultural History at the University of Leuven (2010) with a dissertation on the intertwined worlds of Belgian art, postmodernism and psychoanalysis in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Since then he has worked as a researcher in the library collections of the University of Oxford and the National Bank of Belgium, resulting in a book on the economic history of Belgium (Het gestolde land. Een economische geschiedenis van België, 2016).

At the Ruusbroec Institute, Kristof is a Ph.D. student exploring British stigmatics in the Victorian age: their rise to fame (or infamy), their appropriation by figures and groups from all sides of the social, religious and political spectrum, and their legacies as popular saintly celebrities.