NeMoSanctI’s research is carried out by an interdisciplinary team of researchers with different expertises – such as religious studies, canon law, hagiography, and literature – and applying semiotic methodologies to the study of models of sanctity.

Jenny Ponzo

Jenny Ponzo is NeMoSanctI’s Principal Investigator. She is Associate Professor of Semiotics at the Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences at the University of Turin (Italy).

Between 2014 and 2017 she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (Germany), where she carried out a project about religious themes in fiction and she taught courses in semiotics of religion. Previously, she worked at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) and at the University of Turin. She holds a Ph.D. in Language and Communication Sciences from the University of Turin and a Ph.D. in Arts from the University of Lausanne.

She is the author of three monographs, the latest of which is entitles Religious Narratives in Italian Literature after the Second Vatican Council: A Semiotic Analysis (2019, De Gruyter).

Her research interests include semiotic and narrative theories, interdisciplinary methods for the study of identity, subjectivity, values and interpretative styles, Italian and comparative literature, cultural and religious studies.

Gabriele Marino

Gabriele Marino joined NeMoSanctI as an expert in semiotic analysis. Within the project, he carries out the semiotic study of hagiographic and liturgical texts issued by the Catholic Church. He is currently focussing on the different editions of the Martyrologium Romanum (1584-2004). In addition, he runs and coordinates the online communication of the project (website, social media, etc.).

Gabriele Marino is a semiotician and digital marketer. He graduated in Communication Studies (BA) and Digital Humanities (MA) from the University of Palermo and holds a Ph.D. in Language and Communication Sciences from the University of Turin. He has been mainly dealing with music (genre theory, improvisation), online viral phenomena (memes, misinformation), design (sound design, automation, art direction), and market research (qualitative analysis, PPC campaigns), working with universities (University of Turin, IAAD, IED, IUSVE), research institutes (baba, Pomilio Blumm, Episteme), and private companies (Wherabout, Google-ETO, BitBang).

He single-authored the book Britney canta Manson e altri capolavori (‘Britney sings Manson and other masterpiecies’; Crac, 2011), an essay about music criticism, and edited the monographic issue of the international journal of semiotics “Lexia” dedicated to the notion of virality (Viralità/Virality, No. 25-26; with Mattia Thibault).

Francesco Galofaro

Francesco Galofaro joined NeMoSanctI as an expert in semiotic analysis. Within the project, he carries a semiotic study of process of canonization and hagiographic texts issued by the Catholic Church. He is currently focusing on Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.

Francesco Galofaro is a semiotician. He graduated in Communication Studies (MA) and holds a Ph.D. in Semiotics from the University of Bologna. His research focuses on ethnosemiotics, epistemology, Information Retrieval, and Morphodynamics, with particular regard to litanic structures.

He single-authored the books Eluana Englaro (Meltemi, 2009), dedicated to the political, scientific, and ethic debate on euthanasia, and Dopo Gerico. I nuovispazi della psichiatria (After Jericho: the new psychiatric spaces, Esculapio, 2015), an ethnosemiotic analysis on psychiatric service design. He co-edited the books Morphogenesis and Individuation (with F. Montanari and A. Sarti, Springer, 2014) dedicated to Gilbert Simondon, and Il senso della tecnica. Saggi su Bachelard (The meaning of technology: essays on Bachelard, Esculapio, 2017, with Paola Donatiello and Gerardo Ienna).

Marco Papasidero

Marco Papasidero joined NeMoSanctI as an expert in Hagiography and History of the Church and Christianity. His work inside the project specifically focuses on the figure of St. Gerardus Majella (1726-1755).

Marco Papasidero has received his Ph.D. in “History of euromediterranean cultural forms” from the University of Messina. He studied the hagiographical tradition of furta sacra (thefts of relics) in the medieval Italy. He is “Cultore della materia” in History of the Church and Christianity (University of Messina), and History of Religions (University for foreigners of Reggio Calabria). He had a fellowship at the General Archive of Carmelitan Order on the figure of the Bl. Aloysius Rabatà († 1499). Among his research areas: the study of hagiographic texts from a literary point of view and as sources for culture and mentality; the rites and practices of healing in the sanctuaries; the relationship between medicine and cult of saints; the cult of relics; the Marian apparitions.

He received the 2018 “Istituto Sangalli per le culture religiose” prize for his Ph.D. thesis, that will be published by the Firenze University Press (2019). He also authored the volume «A laudi Deu». Luigi Rabatà tra storia, memoria e pratiche devozionali (2019, Edizioni Carmelitane, in press).

Gabriele Vissio

Gabriele Vissio joined NeMoSanctI as an expert in philosophy. His work in the ERC Project focuses on the normative aspects of the subject and its philosophical implicationsHe also works on public engagement activities, dissemination and exploitation of results.

Gabriele Vissio graduated in Philosophy (MA) at the University of Turin and he got his PhD Degree in Philosophy at Université Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne and at the FINO North-western Italian Philosophy Consortium. He also got a Degree in Religious Sciences at the Theological University of Northern Italy (Fossano, Italy). His fields of experience are normative philosophy, philosophy of science (with particular reference to the approach adopted by the tradition called “historical epistemology”) and French contemporary philosophy. After his PhD he was also involved in research and social innovation European programmes, such as the INTERREG-ALCOTRA project“#Com.Viso” ( and the Erasmus + KA2 project “Together”.

He authored several essays about different issues in contemporary philosophy, especially about normative philosophy. He recently edited the book Terapie dell’umano. Filosofia, etica e cultura della cura (Pisa 2018) and the Italian edition of R. Ruyer, Neofinalismo (Milano-Udine 2018; with V. Cavedagna and U. Ugazio).

Former members

Eleonora Rai

Eleonora Rai joined NeMoSanctI as an expert in the History of the Church and Christianity (16th-20th centuries), and Canon Law.

After obtaining a PhD in History (2014) with a program jointly convened by the  University of Milan (PhD Program: Studi storici e documentari. Età medievale, moderna e contemporanea) and the École pratique des hautes études (PhD Program: History, Texts and Documents), she was appointed as a postdoctoral fellow at Fondazione Fratelli Confalonieri (Milan), and thereafter had a fruitful international experience in  the Australian Academia. Here, Eleonora was firstly appointed as a Research Associate within the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (University of Western Australia), working on the Suppression of the Society of Jesus, and Italian Jesuit missions in the Early Modern Age; then, as Assistant Dean at Newman College (University of Melbourne), where she also taught several subjects for Bachelor’s students. Beforejoining the University of Turin, she worked at Deakin University (Melbourne) on a project at the intersection of Catholic and Legal History.

In 2013, Eleonora published a monograph (La Santa Parola. Le veggenti di Pusiano e i loro seguaci, Milano: Edizioni Biblioteca Francescana, 2013), which retraces a fascinating case of female prophecy in 19th century Italy. She is currently working on both recognized sainthood, through exploring causes for canonization, and simulation of sanctity (e.g. cases of alleged stigmatics).

Andrea Pennini

Andrea Pennini joined NeMoSanctI as an expert of archival research and History of Modern Church and Legal History. His work inside the project specifically focuses on the canonization processes.

Andrea Pennini graduated from the University of Turin and earned his PhD in historical sciences from the University of Eastern Piedmont (Vercelli) in 2012. He studied the “social” sanctity in XIX century Piedmont, and particularly the life and works of Juliette Colbert marquise of Barolo and of her husband Carlo Tancredi. After a postdoc at the Department of Jurisprudence of the University of Turin, where he was also attributed the title of cultore della materia in History of Law and in History of the Political Institutions, he now collaborates with the Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences.

His publications include two monographs (Con la massima diligentia possibile. Diplomazia e politica estera sabauda nel primo Seicento, Rome: Aracne, 2015, and Nulla standoci maggiormente a cuore. Ordini religiosi e politiche territoriali nel Piemonte della Restaurazione, Rome: Carocci, 2017) and several academic essays about the Savoy diplomatic networks and the historical events regarding the Religious orders in the Kingdom of Sardinia from the French Revolution tothe Restoration.

What is NeMoSanctI?


NeMoSanctI is a research project carried out at the University of Turin. It studies how models of sanctity have changed after the Second Vatican Council. To this end, it applies a pioneering methodology based on semiotic theory to a wide corpus of normative, judicial, and narrative texts.

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 757314).