Erin Giffin

Erin Giffin

Robert Lehman Fellow
Translating Space: Replicas of the Holy House of Loreto
Giffin, Erin


Erin Giffin completed her dissertation on sixteenth-century Italian religious sculpture at the University of Washington in 2017. Thereafter, she became a postdoctoral researcher in the ERC-funded research group SACRIMA: The Normativity of Sacred Images in Early Modern Europe at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany (2017-2021). Her postdoctoral research directly informs the subject of her current monograph, entitled Translating Space: Replicas of the Holy House of Loreto. Dr. Giffin’s research encompasses sculptural and architectural installations and surviving representations thereof in print. She has published on related subjects in journals including Perspective, I Tatti Studies, and Print Quarterly.


Project Summary

The monograph Translating Space: Replicas of the Holy House of Loreto enacts the first comprehensive, cross-cultural analysis of replicas of the Santa Casa di Loreto in European and colonial territories. This publication explores the complex web of Loretan cult sites and the two- and three-dimensional media circulating information about the shrine’s central devotional relic: the supposed house of the Virgin Mary. The case of the Santa Casa and its many replicas effectively reevaluates the phenomenon of early modern reproduction of sacred objects and spaces with an aim to expose the complex interrelationship between Catholic cult sites and their regional centers in the post-Tridentine era. This exploration situates the Santa Casa in the greater context of immersive cult objects and pilgrimage centers, from replicas of the Holy Sepulchre to the Sacri Monti. By tracing permutations of the Holy House wrought through replicas, this discussion sheds light on the sacred and secular priorities of early modern patrons, artists and viewers, and uncovers preconceived notions from the period regarding the veracity of circulating printed media.