Andrea Hanna was selected for a Graduate Student Assistantship from the World History Center for Summer

"The history of America is bound up with immigration. As immigration brought people to America’s shores, it also brought material artifacts important to their cultural heritage. While Memory and Migration is a growing area of study, and one which rightly focuses on the social practices and oral histories of migrants, in my project, Andrea wants to put specific artifacts into dialogue with residents as they share their memories and relationships with these transregional objects over time. Explicitly, Andrea wants to explore how European Catholic relics, ex/im-ported to America, helped re-construct the identity of Troy Hill’s Germanic, Catholic, immigrant community in the 19th century. St Anthony’s Chapel in Troy Hill houses the second largest collection of relics outside the Vatican, and here it is in a city that was and is not predominately Catholic, and in a country that was and is not Catholic. Andrea believes this unusual location of such a large host of Catholic relics, severed from Europe by an ocean, and separated from other cities by difficult terrain, provides a unique opportunity to examine how relic-veneration was practiced in the new world, and how it impacted identity-formation in this new socio-religious and political landscape. Much has been written about the history of relic cults in medieval Europe, but little has been said of the portability of said relic cults to America or how they were re-constructed in this new world. St Anthony’s in Troy Hill may begin to shed light on this understudied phenomenon."

"Despite its tumultuous history in the United Kingdom and America, significant elements of Catholic material culture were salvaged and preserved in small footholds in places such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Durham, England. The unassuming, isolated St Anthony’s Chapel in Troy Hill, Pittsburgh and Ushaw College in Durham, England contain the largest collections of relics outside of the Vatican and in predominantly Protestant nations. As conduits to the divine, relic-reliquaries hold a significant place in Catholic culture and, thus, warrant more scholarly attention than they have previously received in general. Yet more specifically, there is a need to examine how communities of Catholic worshippers re-constructed their respective identities in the face of religious persecution and hostilities towards their minority denomination. I aim to research how the Troy Hill and Durham Catholic communities, specifically, established themselves through religious materials such as relics. Through my assistantship at the University of Pittsburgh’s World History Center with which  Andrea will examine the relics in St Anthony’s and Durham’s Ushaw College, She will explore the relics’ significance in the liturgical life of Catholic minority communities. This project will help paint an untold history of these communities in two Euro-American countries and will serve as a comparative case for scholars of other relic-venerating faiths."


At the end of the summer Andrea will be hosting a public lecture in St Anthony's chapel outlining the results of my research.