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Walking With Saints: from 24 till 26 May 2018

By April 10, 2018No Comments

Walking With Saints
Ronse, Belgium, 24-26 may 2018

From 24 till 26 May 2018, the city of Ronse and KADOC (Documentation and Research Centre for Religion, Culture and Society of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium), in collaboration with TIO3, organise the international conference Walking with saints: protection, devotion and civic identity. The role of the landscape.

The conference focusses on the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritagefrom the perspective of pilgrimages in relation tothe urban and natural landscape. This conference, therefore, aims at studying the religious landscape not as the mere spatial background of spiritual activities, but as an active agent in the shaping, transmission and transformation of the spiritual activities of human beings throughout time and throughout the world.

More than 40 papers from participants coming from 21 different countries, including Taiwan, the USA, Pakistan, Chilli, the Philippines, Israel, Finland, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and many other countries, will present case studies as well as discuss the importance and significance of processions and similar intangible cultural activities in relation to the landscape.

Mrs Cécille Duvelle, former Chief of the Section Intagible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO and one of the keynote speakers, will talk about issues regarding “safeguarding” Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Mr Andrew Spicer, Professor of Early Modern History, Oxford Brookes University (UK), the second keynote speaker, will address the confessional and political conflicts and upheavals during the early modern period in the Low Countries and how they affected the urban and natural landscape.

The reason for organising the conference in Ronse is the ‘Fiertel Ommegang’. This procession originates from around 1090 A.D. and is yearly held on Trinity Sunday. During a day walk of 32, 6 km the inhabitants of Ronse circumscribe the territorial boundaries of the city carrying Saint Hermes’s relics. For ages, the Fiertel has been one of the most important religious activities in the region and  to date has remained a strong symbol of the inhabitant’s civic identity even in times of secularization.

The conference is part of an assessment of the local Fiertel procession as a possible candidate for recognition as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. On Sunday 27 May, the participants can join the procession themselves.

Registration is open till 15 May 2018. For the full programme and all practical information, please visit


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