[June Online Class] The Putrid and the Divine: The Magical Scents of Christian Saints

edgar-maxence-sainte-thérèse-de-lisieux

I am so excited to announce that I will be teaching another online class for the Institute of Art and Olfaction. This class is a fun dive into Christian olfactive ontology (I swear, it is cooler then it sounds, see below). The course will be held June 23rd, 9:00am-10:30am PST.

My last two classes with A&O sold out very quickly and we had dozens of folks that couldn’t get into the course. I hope we can repeat those classes soon for all those that couldn’t make it but if you are interested in this class I suggest reserving your spot early.

I also want to say a big thank you to my readers that came out to support my work and the A&O last month. You are an amazing group of weirdos and I always want to bring content to you that is valuable. So please feel free to leave suggestions. Do you like these classes, are there other subjects you’d like me to cover? I’d love your feedback.


The Putrid and the Divine: The Magical Scents of Christian Saints


  • Tue, June 23, 2020
  • 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM PDT
  • Tickets

Did you ever wonder what a saint smells like? Does God have a smell? What would you learn from catching a whiff of something heavenly?

There is a long tradition within Christianity, particularly in the early church, of framing miraculous events in a sensorial, even a sensual, way. Early Christian writers grounded these visitations in the senses in such a way that magic seemed touchable, holiness could be tasted, and the divine could be smelled. This created a lush, dramatic, and delightfully odd world of reeking Pillar Saints, rose-scented stigmata wounds, and visitations by sentient smell clouds. Not everyone was a fan of this sensory approach, and it has fallen out of fashion in theological circles but its influence can still be felt across the spectrum of Christian belief.

If the olfactive lives of saints and a brief history of otherworldly smells sound interesting, join Nuri McBride and The Institute for Art and Olfaction for The Putrid and the Divine.

In this class, we will:

  • Review sense perception and the olfactory landscape of the Early Christian World
  • Understand the role of aromatics as sacrificial objects, allegorical tools, and ritualised communication in the early church
  • Learn about the concept of the Christian Body and how odour played a part in the physical expression of holiness, both through otherworldly pleasant scents and earthly malodours
  • Examine four olfactive states in Christian cosmology: The Odour of Sanctity, The Holy Stench, The Scent of the Martyr, and the Aroma of God

This is an online class. The Zoom link will be sent by email 24 hours before the class.

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