Tine Van Osselaer


Tine 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). She was 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) and is currently leading the projects “Patients and Passions. Catholic Views on Pain in Nineteenth-Century Austria” (sponsored by FWO/FWF, a collaboration with Maria Heidegger) and “Contested bodies. The religious lives of corpses” (sponsored by FWO/SNF, a collaboration with Angela Berlis).

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

Leonardo Rossi


Leonardo 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 library and archive collections of art institutions, the University of Oxford and the National Bank of Belgium. This resulted in a book on the economic history of Belgium (Het gestolde land. Een economische geschiedenis van België, 2016). He previously worked as a research assistant in the Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe project at University College London, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He is an editor of The Dutch Review of Books and regularly contributes essays on history, economy, and (memory) politics.

At the Ruusbroec Institute, Kristof is a Ph.D. student (BOF grant) exploring British and Irish stigmatics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: 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 in religious and folk culture. You can find Kristof on Twitter: @kristof_smeyers

Linde Tuybens


Linde obtained a Master’s degree in Cultural History at the University of Leuven in 2017. She wrote a dissertation on medical expertise in cases of sexual assault in Belgium in the second half of the nineteenth century. In her thesis she examined how expertise was constructed and how these physicians gave meaning to the victim’s body. After graduating, she has worked in the private sector and as a teaching assistant of the KU Leuven research group Cultural History since 1750.

Since March 2020, Linde is working as a Ph.D. student on the Patients and Passions project (funded by the FWF-FWO). By studying stigmatics in nineteenth-century Austria, she is investigating Catholic views on pain and suffering: what was seen as emotional and/or physical pain, how was it interpreted, and how did contemporaries respond to this suffering. This research will thus also shed light on the impact of modern medicine on the meanings of pain for Catholics in this time period.


Previous members

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 was a post-doctoral researcher at the Ruusbroec Institute (Universiteit Antwerpen), in the ERC-funded project STIGMATICS. She examined 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