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Annual conference of the International Society for the Study of Medieval Theology (IGTM)

Date: Time: 15:00 Location: Utrecht

In 2024, it is 800 years ago that Francis of Assisi started to write his Canticle of the Creatures, which includes the famous lines on “Sister Death.”

Christian theology usually considers the end of life in this world in the perspective of the life after this life, the life that goes on forever. From the viewpoint of medieval faith and morality, the final phase of earthly life remains only a transitional one.

Nevertheless, at some definitive point, earthly lives really approached their end. Cases of sudden death excepted, people now found themselves in a period of letting-go, of near-death, of a real completion of earthly existence. 

Whereas the realization of one’s own finiteness had usually been interiorized to a greater or lesser degree from an early age (rites of passage, memento mori, dance of death, etc.), the prospect of the future life – damnation or salvation drawing near – could bring with it intensified feelings of fear and hope. 


The confusing confrontation with the painful process of transitioning from the old to the new life called for prayer, perseverance, and trust in God. How medieval theologians investigated, interpreted, and visualized death is the subject of this conference.

Sponsored by Theological University Utrecht, Tilburg School of Catholic Theology and Franciscan Study Center, Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University, Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion (Noster).

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