Photographer: Eduard Lampe

Dr M.P. (Marianne) Ritsema van Eck

Middeleeuwse geschiedenis
  • Faculty of Humanities
    Capaciteitsgroep Geschiedenis
  • Visiting address
    Kloveniersburgwal 48  
  • Postal address:
    Kloveniersburgwal  48
    1012 CX  Amsterdam


BA degree: English Language and Culture at the University of Groningen (cum laude).
Research Master degree: Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies at the University of Groningen (cum laude). 


Since September 2012 I am working as a PhD candidate of Medieval History at the University of Amsterdam.

My PhD project "Custodians of sacred Space: Constructing the Franciscan Holy Land through texts and sacri monti (ca. 1480-1650)" studies late medieval and early modern Franciscan translations of the sacred spaces of the Holy Land to Western Europe. The establishment of a convent on Mount Zion in Jerusalem in 1336 signalled the beginning of the Franciscan Custodia Terrae Sanctae, soon more convents followed. During the late medieval period, these friars of the custodia were the only Catholic Christians who maintained a permanent presence in the Holy Land, and they fulfilled an important role in the receiving, assisting, and guiding of Catholic Pilgrims.

By the turn of the 16th century these Franciscans start to develop quite detailed ideas and theories about the nature of the Holy Land as a sacred space itself; moreover, they begin to see a very specific role for themselves as an order in all this. These ideologies and the associated identities are what interests me.

With my dissertation project I study firstly, how these Franciscans understood the spaces of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and secondly how they translated these spaces to Western Europe. In order to do this I study a corpus of sources characterised by a two-fold typology: textual sources such as treatises on the Holy Land, or travelogues by Franciscans on the one hand, and material translations of the spaces of the Holy Land by Franciscan Holy Land veterans on the other. The earliest sacri monti, holy mountains, in Italy, are a good example of the latter: these are complexes of little chapels that together form a translated Jerusalem.

The reception of these Franciscan mediations of the Holy land also has my attention: lay involvement with these translations, either through patronage in elite-circles, or devotional interest in lower strata of society. I am particularly interested in ideological constructions of space, (gendered) geographies of devotion, and concepts of holiness and their replica’s elsewhere.  

I conduct my research within the context of the larger NWO-funded project: “Cultural Memory and Identity in the Late Middle Ages: The Franciscans of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Representation of the Holy Land (1333-1516)”.

Center for Medieval Studies Amsterdam

The Center for Medieval Studies Amsterdam (CMSA) was founded in 2010 as a platform for collaborationamong medievalist across different fields at the University of Amsterdam . To read more about the CMSA or about the Medieval historians at the UvA including their projects, teaching and other work, follow the link below.


  • Ritsema van Eck, M. P. (2017). Custodians of Sacred Space: Constructing the Franciscan Holy Land through texts and sacri monti (ca. 1480-1650) [details] 
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