Heather Cook '19, of Lowell, Massachusetts, has been awarded the 12th annual Peter R. D'Agostino Prize for Excellence in History for her senior thesis, "Examining Graeco-Roman Ritual Practice and the Development of Christian Relic Veneration."
In her thesis, Cook examined how four early theologians worked to define orthodox Christian beliefs concerning relics and relic veneration. Advised by Professor Nathaniel DesRosiers, Cook's thesis demonstrates that by accepting and endorsing the practice of venerating Christian saints, mainly by visiting their tombs and honoring their relics, early Church fathers bridged the most evident differences between Christian and Graeco-Roman ritual practice and more successfully converted polytheistic practitioners to the new, monotheistic faith. Cook showed that early Christian beliefs and practices were directly shaped by the dominant Graeco-Roman polytheism of the third and fourth centuries.
The Peter R. D'Agostino Prize was created to honor the memory of Peter D'Agostino, a member of the Stonehill College History and Religious Studies Departments from 1995 to 2001, who died tragically in June 2005.