CHAIR For the study of marriage & spirituality


The Family as Domestic Church

Duration: 01.01.2009-31.12.2010

Promotor: Thomas Knieps-Port le Roi

In the growing body of theological and spiritual literature on the family over recent years there is hardly any publication that does not explicitly refer to the “domestic church”. In spite of this broad interest, however, the concept itself today still remains unclear. Where the model of the “church in miniature” is not used to further align the family with the hierarchical ecclesiastical institution, it simply serves as a pious metaphor to instil some spiritual dignity to the Christian household. Likewise, theological treatises insist that the church is not a family and so the domestic church has remained a marginal and exotic note in ecclesiology as well. One may wonder, however, whether small communities, as families are, have indeed so little to tell the “new family of God” to which Christ has called his disciples to belong. Can the churches afford to neglect the specific competences that families have when it comes to serving and sharing with each other, to dealing with differences and otherness of its members (be they related to gender, age, ethnicity, or religious conviction), and to encountering God in ordinary life with its everyday ties, duties and responsibilities?

International Conference “The Household of God and Local Households. Revisiting the Domestic Church”, KU Leuven, 10-13 March 2010.


Knieps-Port le Roi, T., Mannion, G., De Mey, P. (Eds.) (2013). The Household of God and Local Households. Revisiting the Domestic Church (BETL, 254), Leuven : Peeters, 2013.

Matrimonium in fieri. Rethinking Christian Marriage as a Process

Duration: 01.01.2006-31.12.2009

Promoter: Thomas Knieps-Port le Roi


Description: The research project intends to address the growing discrepancy between the Catholic understanding of marriage and the lived experience of contemporary partner relations. When it comes to describing the enduring character of the marital union, the Roman Catholic Church's teaching and theology highlight the permanent and irreversible character of the conjugal bond once it has been ratified and consummated. Consequently, a static view prevails which does not pay much attention to the relational dynamic and growth along the spouses' shared trajectory, both before and after the entry into formal marriage. The project aims at exploring possibilities of a theological understanding of marriage that takes into consideration relational growth both with respect to marriage formation and the marital life

course. In this way it is intended to overcome the shortcomings of the traditional and present theology of marriage and to prepare the ground for a marriage ministry that adjusts to lived experience and accompanies the marital relationship throughout its developmental stages.



Knieps-Port le Roi, T. (2010). Die Ehe als Prozess aus sakramententheologischer Perspektive, in Zeitschrift für Katholische Theologie, 132(3), 273-292.

Knieps-Port le Roi, T. (2008). Die Ehe als Prozess? Eine sakramententheologische Problemskizze, in Questions liturgiques / Studies in Liturgy, 89(4), 219-237.

Knieps-Port le Roi, T. (2008). Het huwelijk in wording? Een sacramentologische probleemschets, in Knieps T., Boeve L. (Eds.), Gods sacramentele aanwezigheid in de wereld van vandaag (pp. 241-256). Leuven-Voorburg: Acco.

Marital Spirituality - The Emergence of a New Discourse in the Theology of Marriage and Christian Spirituality

Duration: 01.10.2003-30.09.2006

Promoters: Monica Sandor, Thomas Knieps-Port le Roi


Description: The twentieth century has witnessed the emergence of a new discourse in Christianity's approach to marriage and family life which is not simply one of official doctrine or institutional teaching. The term "marital spirituality" describes a field of Christian faith and practice that emanates from and has its distinctive contours in the lives of married people and their families. The present research project is dedicated to the exploration of this recent and

still relatively young field of scholarship: how the ground was prepared and how it finally emerged in the history of Christianity, the specific field of faith experience and practice it points to, and the perspectives it opens for the Christian understanding of marriage and spirituality alike.



Knieps-Port le Roi, T., Sandor, M. (Eds.) (2008). Companion to Marital Spirituality (Studies in Spirituality Supplements, 18). Leuven: Peeters.

Knieps-Port le Roi, T. (2006). Marital Spirituality. A Spiritual Paradigm-Shift, in The Way 45, 59-75.

Sandor, M. (2005). Contemporary Marital Spirituality. A Survey of the Principal Themes, in INTAMS review vol. 11/2, 238-258.

Sandor, M. (2004). The Rise of Marital Spirituality, in INTAMS review 10/2, 153-176.

Research group Lay Spirituality 


Katholische Akademie Schwerte, Germany

Titus-Brandsma Instituut, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands

INTAMS, Belgium

Duration: 2005ff.


Serial publication:

Felderkundungen Laienspiritualität. Ed. Kees Waaijman & U. Dickmann. Schwerte: Katholische Akademie Schwerte.


Volumes published

Vol. 1. Beziehungen, ed. K. Waaijman & U. Dickmann, 2008;

Vol. 2. Geburt, ed. I. Bocken & U. Dickmann, 2010;

Vol. 3. Wohnen, ed. U. Dickmann & W.C. Schneider, 2011

Vol. 4. Arbeit, ed. U. Dickmann & T. Knieps-Port le Roi, 2014.