Ashley Prince

Ashley Prince

Severn, MD, US


To Know Our Dead [a thesis]

For the Catholic tradition, 'how to die' and 'how to mourn' are important lessons that must be taught, handed down, and held together by the community to be affective and the placement of the remains of the dead is profoundly important to this end. When Catholics, as a community, are certain of the Resurrection, the body is seen as the earthly vehicle that will rise again; and so great care is taken of the body and the soul to prepare for the body for the Second Coming and the soul for Heaven. When the community becomes uncertain, the body is seen as all that remains in the accessible universe and the funerary architecture as the only lasting trace of that person's presence in the world. The minute we are no longer certain of our own soul's eternal existence and survival after death is the minute we pay particular attention to the memorialization of another's body at death. These concerns lead us to build funerary architecture that is no longer a collection of our society's dead, but a necessary memorialization of every deceased.

As modern American Catholics struggle to hold on to their Catholic beliefs above those of the secular world, one can see the infiltration of grand, individualized funerary architecture in the Catholic landscape. These modern funerary monuments are contraindicated in a religious belief system that recognizes the importance of each body as molded by God, prepared for the reunification with its soul, and ready to rise again along with a multigenerational community of believers. This thesis investigates funerary architecture's responsibility to ritual and to the living within the context of the Catholic parish church.

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Status: Unbuilt
Location: Thibodaux, LA, US
My Role: Solo Project