Our passion for history, restoration, and recovery of the rare and the unique artifacts or documents of all faiths and cultures from the past has become the primary focus at DIG. We are able to review and work with organizations that are in need to have their historical collections preserved and restored. Whether it is the documents, relics, personal photographs or family heirlooms, our goal is to assist in the effort to recover the history and preserve it for future study.
While we have been focusing our resources on helping the churches in Abruzzo with their collections, 2021 will have additional preservation projects in other European and American locations. Please keep checking back for updates.
Bone remains of Saint Benedict once concealed in a vessel or a reliquary have been recovered.
The bone of Saint Benedict "given a new home" amongst other remains of Saints. The original vessels were believed to be destroyed during th Nazi invasion of the town in 1943.
Work area where the old relics are handled, cleaned, inventoried and given a new vessel. photo by Matthew Larcinese
The veneration of relics of the saints and martyrs in the Catholic Church has been practiced for almost two millennia. For Catholics, the relics are a spiritual link between man and God. For a non-Catholic, the objects that display the bones, hair, flesh, or an earthly possession of the saint can be viewed as superstition or as macabre. An exhibition of the relics of the Catholic Church at museums may elicit negative responses from the faithful and nonreligious audience alike. The question becomes: How can a museum display the relics of the Catholic Church without alienating either group? DIG considers and reviews the history of relics and their prolific use and influence in the Middle Ages and the war that was waged against the very culture that still ran strong during the later Reformation centuries by drawing on qualitative methods. In addition, by using scientific case studies for a comparative analysis we compare how these methods have proven relics to be both valid and fake, which has further created an ambiguous solution to the empirical data. We draw on case studies of museums displaying bones and exhibitions defining human evolution and take note of Catholic visitor feedback. Using data collected from audiences attending the British Museum’s temporary exhibit of the relics earlier last decade, visitor surveys and reviews are considered, as well as an interview with the museum’s curator at that time to understand the details of the exhibition and the audience’s reaction. The conclusion considers the analysis to the effect that the museum should use the vast number of medieval relics to educate its visitors with a singular goal in mind: to provide information on what the relics represent and their influence in shaping European and Western culture. In addition, the relics should not be considered either valid or invalid, but should rather be a part of a respectful exhibition where their interpretation, whether by people of Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish faith, is one that derives from a framework of educated understanding of their significance and in terms of which their cultural influence on European history can better be appreciated and objectively understood.
Matthew Larcinese, Founder and President
Digging the Past, Inc. archives art restoration museology
Central Italy is brimming with culture. The prolific amount of people that have settled in this area over the last 2 millennia has contributed to a unique landscape. The study of these cultures has been explored using Y-DNA analysis, archival research and onsite exploration. It is evident through years of Catholic rite that the cultures who once flourished here have been lost and forgotten.
The Nazi invasion in the mid-20th century eliminated any other type of material culture which could be found, specifically the Jewish Quarters and ghettos that were prolific in many of the towns and which the archives demonstrate have been populated since the 6th and 7th centuries. The entrance to the Jewish ghetto (above) in Lanciano, Abruzzo, Italy features their own "Judaica" that documents have defined since the 10th century. Utilizing the neighborhoods that still exist, the structures and ruins that still stand, DIG will endeavor to create a cultural awareness and sustainability by bringing these remains and neighborhoods to the forefront