Visualizing Emotion and Affect: Visitor Encounters at St. Peter’s Basilica

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Journal Title

International Journal of Euro-Mediterranean Studies (IJEMS)

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St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world by both area and volume and its impressive structure generates feelings of awe and reverence in visitors. How do visitors portray these emotive experiences? What spaces within the church do they highlight, and how does the space affect their encounter? Other studies of affect and emotion have examined a variety of spaces, but research on historical religious sites and the ways in which they are experienced by visitors remains limited. This project seeks to contribute to the emerging dialog of affect and emotion by providing a case study analyzing visitor photographs of St. Peter’s Basilica. These photographs reveal that visitors commonly document beams of light and the structure’s impressive ceiling, suggesting that these elements, more than explicitly religious symbols, are central to the emotional experience of encountering the space.


The original version of this article and other issues of this journal are available through the Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI) at: https://emuni.si/publications/issues/.

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The International Journal of Euro-Mediterranean Studies (IJEMS) is an open access journal aimed at promoting intercultural dialogue and exchanges between societies, developing human resources, and assuring greater mutual understanding in the Euro-Mediterranean region.