The Netherlands: Manifestation – Stilte aan het Werk (Silence at Work)

ESK Chapel in EIndhoven

13 April – 27 May

The manifestation, Stilte aan het Werk (Silence at Work), will demonstrate how contemporary silent experiences can be designed, in the ESK Chapel in EIndhoven, from 13 April. At the core of this manifestation is the stilte proefruimte (silent test space), a silent space inspired by the values and experiences of the user. The space is open to visitors until 27 May and offers a place to those seeking a moment of rest, or, who are interested in new forms of silent experiences.

Manifestation stimulates dialogue on the reuse of churches as rest spaces 

The manifestation is connected to the current debate on re-use of religious property. WIth the silent test space, the project focuses its attention on the needs of possible users, rather than the conditions laid out by the religious community, church board and councils. To complete this manifestation, the Werkplaats van de Stilte (SIlence Workshop) will publish its recommendations and conditions for the design of a silent space.

Experience silence alone, but also with others 
The creative team from Silence at Work is made up of architect Liz Dewitte, designer Jennifer Bruinendaal,  artist Jan Dams and light designer Nadine van Amersvoort.  Their design has taken into account important moments during which visitors can experience a silent experience; in a meditative spot, but also while entering or being in the presence of others. In the framework of the manifestation there will be a silence themed lecture every Saturday, where silence will be considered from different standpoints. There will also be a silent café where visitors have the opportunity to record their experience as part of the research.

The manifestation will open officially with a lecture by Erik Borgman (professor Theology at the University of Tilburg) with the title Relief from an overcrowded world. On the desire for silence. The lecture will take place in the Eindhoven Student Chapel on 13 April. Doors open at 3.30pm.

See the leaflet in Dutch.

UK Conference: "The Church and the Community – How to make your Church Buildings work for the Congregation and the Community"

18 May 201, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Organised by the Church Buildings Renewal Trust

The conference will be of interest to the community groups, congregations, professionals, church groups, religious organisations and individuals with an interest in church buildings
The conference speakers will give practical information with examples of solutions to various problems facing those responsible for church buildings today to give those buildings new life.

Please see the brochure and attendance information here.

Baraldi, Luca, “Religious Cultural Heritage in Italy”

Italian history can‘t be taken in consideration regardless of its religious history. Cities, roads, geographical and cultural spaces are strongly conditioned by religious roots and systems of beliefs. In a certain sense religions – considered as a form of perception and re-elaboration of Sacred – laid the foundation  for a cultural development  and gave origin to a heritage that, still today, represents a unicum on a worldwide scale. However, the same uniqueness produced consequences also on a level of management and preservation.  Italian Constitution, considered by the juridical system as “the fundamental Law”, reserves two articles (artt. 8-9) to the relation between culture and religion within National boundaries, in order to fix some necessary guidelines to lead the definition of cooperation conditions.  Religious cultural heritage has to be identified, recognized and protected against the risk of loss of historical roots. Culture, memory, hybridization and tradition have to be preserved, in respect of different characteristics and needs.

The same relation, the interaction between different features, that has been well understood and portrayed in several UNESCO documents, has not been well comprehended by Italian juridical system. A few years ago, nevertheless, something began to change, probably thanks to the influence of Pope John Paul II, and both Italian jurisprudence and university started to face the problem of religious cultural heritage. The Government began to use the juridical form of bilateral agreement, called Intesa, also within the domain of cultural heritage, and religious confessions and Ministries gave origin to a new kind of cultural cooperation, in order to define new guidelines and to try to reach a renewed national policy. The Conferenza Episcopale Italiana created a national office for catholic cultural heritage, the Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane began to reconstruct the self-perception moving from the meaningful history of Italian Judaism, and several other confessions did the same. Cultural heritage – both material and immaterial – found its lost value, and religious institutions brought to mind the richness of their heritage.

Which are the problems that, still today, prevent the cultural system from producing proposals on a wide range, open to interregional or international cooperation? My personal opinion drives me to individuate the problem in an inadequate formative system, for both professionals and clergy. The two possible really involved parts – Christian community and civil society – often don’t have the technical and scientific bases for the comprehension of the problem in its complexity. Central institutions on a national level are nothing else but political interlocutors, rarely capable to translate declarations in operative factors. What we have to deal with is not a system lacking in initiative, but a context with insufficient interpretative skills. Culture, memory, hybridization and tradition have to be considered as different features of the same heritage, that is the reflection of the complexity of a society and its history. Dynamic nature of religious artistic heritage has to be handled by interpreters able to catch its value, respecting the fragility of religious thought and using advanced technical skills.

Is Italian scenery therefore waiting for the definition of a right system to share its richness? Or, on the contrary, the richness of heritage can’t be seen without the necessary competences, and can’t consequently be managed in a useful way? Apart from the order of different phases of causality, ReteSicomoro ( is trying to face the problem through a free access website, aimed at the information and the education of professionals and students, sketching a technical profile since the very first steps: a lexicon, book reviews, article abstracts, juridical sources, financial and administrative instruments, news and fundraising possibilities, an e-learning platform. The only chance to create the conditions for the preservation and the valorization of religious cultural heritage – that represents about the 70% of the entire Italian cultural heritage – is to share competences and experiences, to educate professionals and clergy, to lay the foundation for self-consciousness. No identity can exist with no knowledge of history, no living culture can survive with no comprehension of religious heritage, with no definition of what religion was in the past. To create a new cultural context, we just have to understand how culture has been created.

Dr. Luca Baraldi

Conservator of cultural heritage and religious historian of cultural and religious historian, Dr. Baraldi was a tutor of the International School of Advanced Studies of the Fondazione San Carlo and received his Ph.D. at the National Institute of Languages and Civilisations in Paris.

EUROPE Event – Open Churches

1 June 2012 onwards Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia

The participating churches will open their gates in the summer months and invite the visitors to enjoy the places normally closed to the public as well as a program of events.

The Night of the Churches is part of the Open Churches initiative and was first organised in Vienna in 2003. It aims to raise the awareness of the spiritual and cultural heritage of Christianity and local involvement of the public. Read more in German with links to the other national websites…

AUSTRIA Exhibition – St Francis of Assisi

9 December 2011 – 6 May 2012 The Diocesan Museum in Paderborn

The exhibition is dedicated to the great personality of St Francis of Assisi, the founder of the powerful Franciscan order. It is a first major exhibition in 30 years dedicated to the Saint in the German speaking area. Displaying more than 200 magnificent objects from the local museum and from the major world museum, the exhibition receives added value from the breathtaking architecture of the Padeborn monastery, and a contemporary film screening in the city centre. Read more in English…