The Power and Poetry of Italian Church Confessionals By Jordan G. Teicher

The confessional is a special place in any Catholic Church, but in Marcella Hackbardt’s series “True Confessionals,” it takes on a distinct significance. Centered in their frames and largely shown in churches empty of people, Hackbardt’s confessionals strike viewers not as merely one feature among many in the architecture of faith, but as a theatrical space that services some fundamental human need—one that possibly transcends any particular religious dogma. As Hackbardt sees them, they’re “a powerful metaphor for self-perception and the examination of conscience.”

Hackbardt, an art professor at Kenyon College, was teaching in Rome in 2014 as part of an off-campus studies program when she photographed the confessional at the Basilica of Saint Sabina. She returned the following fall to visit more than 50 churches throughout the country. Hackbardt was raised Catholic, but she stopped going to church while she was still a child. Now, she considered confession with a newfound curiosity.

“You’re promised that you have the opportunity to repent, to have a knowledge of the self and then share it with someone, and then through that examination of conscience and sharing you have the promise of being relived of that and then moving on. The idea of repenting or examining one’s conscience isn’t as much a part of our society anymore. But that seemed to be alive and well in the churches. I became interested in that,” she said.



Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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