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Modern Martyrs

MA students
18 December 2023 - 11 March 2024
Online exhibition

When you look at this image, what jumps out at you? The armour? The arrows? The sponge? Does it remind you of anything?

Over the centuries, widespread secularisation has meant that many of us no longer have the relationships to religious figures that our ancestors did. Their original meanings have been obscured or transformed.

Modern Martyrs is an exhibition created by MA students at the University of Leeds. It uses images of Catholic martyrs from the Rijksmuseum as a starting point to explore how these figures are received today.

From patriotic figureheads to sex symbols, saints have found a myriad of new niches to occupy in modern society. This exhibition invites you to find your own meaning in the rich canon of Catholic martyrs.

Visit the exhibition

Modern Martyrs is part of a wider series of online exhibitions curated by Art Gallery and Museum Studies and Arts Management and Heritage MA students from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, as part of an Interpretations course module.

Visit the online exhibition.


St Sebastian Nursed by Irene and her Helpers, Jacques Blanchard, 1630 – 1638. Oil on canvas, h 153cm x w 202cm x d 10cm x w 41kg. Rijksmuseum CollectionCC0 1.0 Deed license.