Yvonne Kleimann

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Kommunikation durch symbolische Akte. Religiöse Heterogenität und politische Herrschaft in Polen-Litauen


Franz Steiner Verlag

Place of Publication

Stuttgart, Germany


This principle of intersection between action and sacredness was shared by both Jews and Christians. Both Christian and Jewish religious elites highlighted differences between sacred. In Catholicism, validation of space required a consecration by a bishop in preparation for the ritual of the Eucharist. Church vessels were viewed as sacred in relation to the Eucharist. The Eucharist defined levels of sacredness. The controversy over the nature of the Eucharist during the Reformation, challenged the notion of Christian sacred place. After the Reformation, in the minds of the church, and in Poland increasingly also in the minds of the secular courts, only Catholic churches were sacred, because God was only present in Catholic churches.

In cases of robberies and thefts, the courts became arbiters between things sacred and things profane. Crimes against property, but committed in spaces classified as sacred could be considered sacrilege. The decision was the court’s to make which space was considered sacred. In Poland, despite the Reformation’s challenge, Polish courts persistently classified only theft from Catholic churches as sacrilegium, thereby affirming the sacredness of Catholic spaces and the Catholic religion.