Memorial in France Honors Slain Priest

July 27, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

As if by magic, once again a horrific event is met with a spontaneous outpouring of both grief and support. The gruesomeness of the murder of a priest and the terrorizing of a handful of parishioners attending daily mass has captivated the international press. The city of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, however, has responded not to the spectacle of the violent act, but to the humanity of its victims.  ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Memorial

Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial is Still Temporary

July 20, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

On the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2015, a call went out for some permanent way to memorialize those who were killed in that horrific event. As far as I can tell, there are still no official plans for the completion of a memorial or monument. It is interesting to note that a memorial has been installed for Sean Collier, the MIT policeman who was shot and killed by the ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Memorial

Massive Memorial at Promenade in Nice

July 17, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

There’s no telling what delusional evil motivated the killer who deliberately ploughed a truck at high speed though throngs of revelers in Nice, France on Bastille Day. If there was any genuine thought he was acting on faith, reports have surfaced that the first person he killed was a woman wearing a veil. Fatima Charrihi was a devout Muslim and her death left seven children without a mother. By ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Memorial

Spontaneous Shrine for Slain Officers in Dallas

July 09, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Friday morning two police cars were parked in the plaza in front of the Dallas Police Department Headquarters and the flags flew at half-mast. It may have been unintentional, those two cars became a suddenly sacred shrine in the aftermath of the shooting that left five officers dead and many injured. By the end of the day yesterday, news photos showed flowers, balloons, signs and hundreds of ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Memorial

Memorial Altar for Danny Camacho

July 02, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Last week we joined the family, colleagues and many friends of Danny Camacho for a memorial at the Mexican American Cultural Center. Danny was a beloved community leader and historian, expert in the history of East Austin. He passed away suddenly and is deeply missed. Michael Barnes’ column noted the VIP’s in attendance, and it was impressive. My big takeaway, however, was the altar shrine.   I ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Memorial / Austin

Cristina Maria - Memorial or Street Art?

July 02, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In Washington DC, earlier this month, I came across this installation. The painted car hood is very deliberately propped up against the fence on this stretch of 16th St, NW. This is just north of the bridge that spans the Piney Branch Parkway and just south of the intersection with Arkansas Ave. Even with a bit of sleuthing on the internet, and I still don’t know whether this is a memorial or ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred

Sudden Landmark Becomes Sacred Memorial

June 27, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

The scrawled message was spontaneously created, but over the course of several years, the “i love you so much,” graffiti has become a South Austin landmark. T-shirts and logos of the script have come to represent the Austin vibe. The Austin American Statesman even tracked down the artist, Amy Cook.  In a video, she explained how, on what she remembers was a bad day, she reached out to express her ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Austin

Orlando White Crosses are Suddenly Sacred

June 23, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In response to public tragedy some people literally take matters into their own hands. Illinois resident, Greg Zanis was moved to build 49 white crosses in the hours after the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. He wrote the name of each victim on large red hearts in the center of each cross. Then he drove over 1,200 miles to Orlando to set up a suddenly sacred shrine, one of many he’s ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred

Orlando’s Suddenly Sacred Memorials

June 22, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Since the start of this blog in 2008, I have chronicled a number of spontaneous memorials. I began to use the term “Suddenly Sacred” to describe what I saw as a growing phenomenon of handmade shrines marking places in response to tragedy. This isn’t completely new, there have been many traditions in other times and cultures that provided demarcation of special places. But our global culture, I ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred

Muhammad Ali’s Memorial Sites

June 13, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

It seems all of Louisville was engaged in some fashion in memorializing Muhammad Ali. The world saw him as a personality bigger than life. Louisville residents came out for his funeral to remember him as a very real person who touched many of their lives.   Photo by Alton Strupp/The Courier-Journal via AP It was interesting to see there were at least two areas where spontaneous markers appeared ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred