Thursday, 14 February 2013

Hearts in Mind

Ah, February 14th. Will you be sharing heart-shaped cards with your beloved, or sitting alone on the sofa in your pyjamas eating chocolate and settling for heart-throbs on screen? Either way, Valentine's Day is all about hearts and here are two very different ones from our collections:

First up is this Sacred Heart from the de Mortillet amulet collection. What began as a vision by a 17th-century French nun, Marguerite-Marie Alacoque, of Jesus Christ showing her his heart entwined with thorns and flames turned into an active cult of worship in France. There is a Sacred Heart feast day, the symbol was adopted for protection during the French Revolution, and of course there is the famous white church of Sacré-Cœur Basilica at Montmartre in Paris.

PRM 1985.52.33

Next is a rather more gruesome heart object - a preserved human heart in a leaden case, discovered in the medieval crypt of a church in Cork, Ireland and collected by General Pitt Rivers in the 1860s.

PRM 1884.57.18

For an interesting account of the history and significance of heart ablation and burial separate from the body, see this article on one of our project sites. Alternatively, this object features on our gallery audio tour and you can hear the entry here (3 mins):

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