University of Pittsburgh
October 25, 1998



Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 26 -- In a position considered to be rare at a public university, Professor Paula M. Kane will hold the John C., Jr. and Lucine O'Brien Marous Chair in Contemporary Catholic Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Kane will deliver her inaugural address, "Bearing the Wounds of Christ: Stigmatics and the Sacralization of Victimhood," Wednesday, Oct. 28 at

4 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Her talk will focus on the history of stigmatics, people who claim to have bodily marks resembling the wounds of the crucified Christ, and how this phenomenon persists in modern times.

"I don't know of any other chair in contemporary Catholic studies at a public university," commented Professor Alex Orbach, former chairman of Pitt's Religious Studies Department and head of the search committee to fill the chair. John C. Marous, Jr., former CEO of Westinghouse and former chairman of the Pitt Board of Trustees, approached Pitt with the endowment in 1992, stating he specifically wanted to create a chair in Catholic studies, a significant development for Pitt and its department of Religious Studies. "The Marous Chair gives academic credibility to the exploration of the Catholic experience in a way that cannot be done at a denominational school," said Orbach.

An associate professor of religious studies at Pitt since 1990, Kane was selected from half-a-dozen candidates following a national search. According to Orbach, the search team was impressed with Kane's extensive research on the acculturation of Irish Catholics in the Boston area. "Her work on the treatment of Irish Catholics in Boston reflected her ability to offer a critical perspective from an analytical point of view," he said, adding that Kane "has tremendous potential to grow in her new position."

Kane's interests include the history of women and Catholicism and the history of sacred architecture. She holds a bachelor's degree in history from Holy Cross College, and a master's and Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale. As the John and Lucine Marous Professor of Contemporary Catholic Studies, Kane is expected to attract students to Pitt and host speakers who will address issues of interest to the Catholic community.