Special Issue "Domestic Devotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2019).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Salvador Ryan
Website
Guest Editor
Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Pontifical University, St Patrick's College, Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland
Interests: late medieval and early modern Christianity; popular religion; lived religion; materiality of devotion; devotion to Christ’s passion; bardic religious poetry; hagiography; history of preaching; medieval exempla; catechisms and their use; sacred history; 19th and 20th century prayer books; relationship between popular piety and liturgy from the Middle Ages to the present day; Irish religious folklore
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Religions will focus on lived religion and devotional practices as found in the domestic settings of medieval and early modern Europe. More particularly, it will investigate to what degree the experience of personal or familial religious practice in the domestic realm and the more public expression of faith in liturgical or communal settings intersected.

In choosing this theme, this Special Issue wishes to build on the significant research that has been undertaken in recent years on domestic devotion in the early modern period, most notably the volumes produced by the ERC-funded interdisciplinary project Domestic Devotions: The Place of Piety in the Italian Renaissance Home, but also in other studies such as Jessica Martin and Alec Ryrie (eds), Private and Domestic Devotion in Early Modern Britain (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012) and Domestic Devotions in Early Modern Italy, ed. Maya Corry, Marco Faini and Alessia Meneghin (Leiden: Brill, 2018). More broadly, in 2014 the Ecclesiastical History Society chose for its 50th volume of Studies in Church History the theme Religion and the Household, which contains, among others, at least twelve contributions on the early modern period.

The specific topic of medieval domestic devotion has been slower to generate significant treatments such as those mentioned above, although there have been fine edited collections such as Defining the Holy: Sacred Space in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Andrew Spicer and Sarah Hamilton (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), which contain a number of medieval essays, and helpful article contributions by Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane (‘”Medieval Domestic Devotion”, History Compass 11:1 (2013)) and others. This issue aims to respond, in part, to the final section of this article, which sets out some directions for future research. Therefore, it especially welcomes contributors who may wish to consider the relationship between domestic religious practice across medieval Christianity, Judaism and Islam, or to focus in particular on any one of the three faiths. Elisheva Baumgarten’s Practicing Piety in Medieval Ashkenaz (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) and Megan H. Reid’s Law and Piety in Medieval Islam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013) serve as excellent exemplars of this kind of study. While certainly welcoming contributions on early modern domestic devotion, it is nevertheless hoped that a significant number of the essays gathered in this collection will shed much-needed light on this topic within the broad field of medieval studies.

This Special Issue also wishes to broaden the geographical range of enquiry: thus, while we welcome contributors writing on Western Europe, articles which examine aspects of domestic devotion in Central and Eastern Europe are particularly encouraged to submit proposals.          

Topics which might be covered include: books of hours and their use; the domestication of devotion to public images through the production of printed replicas for households; the construction of sacred space in the home; the use of candles, icons, relics, prayer mats, altars, pilgrimage badges, agnus deis, holy water; the communal reading of religious or devotional texts; the practice of fasting; the recitation of prophylactic prayers and the gestures associated with them; the portrayal of domestic devotion in saints’ lives; didactic tracts and their instructions regarding the practice of faith in the home; the adoption of liturgical elements into domestic religious practice, etc.

Prof. Dr. Salvador Ryan
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Late medieval Christianity
  • Lived religion
  • Domestic devotion
  • Materiality
  • Icons
  • Relics
  • Religious art
  • Household
  • Liturgy
  • Hagiography
  • Books of hours
  • Devotional reading
  • History of the emotions

Published Papers (21 papers)

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Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to the Special Issue of Religions—“Domestic Devotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe”
Religions 2020, 11(4), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11040154 - 27 Mar 2020
Abstract
This Special Issue of Religions focuses on lived religion and devotional practices as found in the domestic settings of late medieval and early modern Europe [...] Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle
‘Make Your House like a Temple’: Gender, Space and Domestic Devotion in Medieval Florence
Religions 2020, 11(3), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030120 - 11 Mar 2020
Abstract
This article will discuss domestic devotions by framing them in terms of devotions carried out in the home, defined by its opposition to ecclesiastical, consecrated space. It will examine how women, considered the laity par excellence through their inability to ever attain sacerdotal [...] Read more.
This article will discuss domestic devotions by framing them in terms of devotions carried out in the home, defined by its opposition to ecclesiastical, consecrated space. It will examine how women, considered the laity par excellence through their inability to ever attain sacerdotal authority, were advised spiritually by mendicant friars on how to lead a Christian life according to their status as wives, widows or virgins. It will look at the devotional literature that was widespread in mercantile homes and the devotional images designed to move the soul. This discussion will attempt to show the tensions between ecclesiastical and domestic spaces; between the clergy and the laity, and between the corporeal and spiritual worlds of late medieval devotion. It will argue that, despite clerical unease with the female and domestic space, the importance accorded to female piety by the mendicant orders at the close of the Middle Ages was such that women were entrusted with key educational roles in the family, even leading to the astonishing affirmation of them as ‘preachers’ within the borders of their households. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sanctifying Domestic Space and Domesticating Sacred Space: Reading Ziyāra and Taṣliya in Light of the Domestic in the Early Modern Ottoman World
Religions 2020, 11(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020059 - 28 Jan 2020
Abstract
Shrine-visitation (ziyāra) and devotion to Muḥammad (such as expressed in taṣliya, the uttering of invocations upon the Prophet), both expressed through a range of ritualized practices and material objects, were at the heart of everyday Islam for the vast majority [...] Read more.
Shrine-visitation (ziyāra) and devotion to Muḥammad (such as expressed in taṣliya, the uttering of invocations upon the Prophet), both expressed through a range of ritualized practices and material objects, were at the heart of everyday Islam for the vast majority of early modern Ottoman Muslims across the empire. While both bodies of practice had communal and domestic aspects, this article focuses on the important intersections of the domestic with both shrine-visitation and Muḥammad-centered devotion as visible in the early modern Ottoman lands, with a primary emphasis on the eighteenth century. While saints’ shrines were communal and ‘public’ in nature, a range of attitudes and practices associated with them, recoverable through surviving physical evidence, travel literature, and hagiography, reveal their construction as domestic spaces of a different sort, appearing to pious visitors as the ‘home’ of the entombed saint through such routes as wall-writing, gender-mixing, and dream encounters. Devotion to Muḥammad, on the other hand, while having many communal manifestations, was also deeply rooted in the domestic space of the household, in both prescription and practice. Through an examination of commentary literature, hagiography, and imagery and objects of devotion, particularly in the context of the famed manual of devotion Dalā’il al-khayrāt, I demonstrate the transformative effect of such devotion upon domestic space and the ways in which domestic contexts were linked to the wider early modern world, Ottoman, and beyond. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Printed Pages, Perfect Souls? Ideals and Instructions for the Devout Home in the First Books Printed in Dutch
Religions 2020, 11(1), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010045 - 16 Jan 2020
Abstract
This article studies the role of the earliest books printed in the Dutch vernacular in the religious practice of lay individuals and the devout home. Many of the texts disseminated in these early printed books have received little attention and scholars have tended [...] Read more.
This article studies the role of the earliest books printed in the Dutch vernacular in the religious practice of lay individuals and the devout home. Many of the texts disseminated in these early printed books have received little attention and scholars have tended to view them within the sphere of the Modern Devotion, even though often there is no direct link to this religious reform movement. This article attempts to show that the first books printed in Dutch offer an interesting lens through which to study domestic devotion in the Low Countries in the last decades of the fifteenth century. It argues that these books bridged the gap between catechetical instruction and the private home, literally bringing home many of the ideals and instructions that the clergy would have offered in church and thus increasingly ‘textualizing’ the lives of the late medieval laity. Printers such as Gerard Leeu and his contemporaries acquainted Christians to the use of printed books for personal and practical religious instruction and knowledge and thus paved the way for developments in the sixteenth century. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Devotion, Paintings, and the House: The Collections of Ercole and Giuseppe Branciforti, Princes of Scordia (Palermo, 1687–1720)
Religions 2020, 11(1), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010039 - 10 Jan 2020
Abstract
This paper interrogates familial devotion and its relationship with parts of the house other than the chapel. In detail, it aims to problematize the issue of the devotional/non-devotional use of paintings inside the house by moving the focus from this dual opposition to [...] Read more.
This paper interrogates familial devotion and its relationship with parts of the house other than the chapel. In detail, it aims to problematize the issue of the devotional/non-devotional use of paintings inside the house by moving the focus from this dual opposition to the active role of canvases, broadly defined. Informed by Jacques Derrida’s and Pierre Bourdieu’s writings, this paper argues for the structural nature of the paintings inside the house and their meaningful correlation with both the arrangement of the domestic interior and the practices of people experiencing those spaces. To do this, the paper challenges the overwhelming attention paid by early-modern scholars to Northern and central Italy and investigates a precise case study, i.e., Palazzo Scordia in Palermo (Sicily). The research draws upon primary sources and amongst these, upon two detailed inventories of furniture referring to two subsequent generations of an aristocratic clan residing in Palermo between the seventeenth and the eighteenth century, i.e., Ercole and Giuseppe Branciforti, princes of Scordia. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Performance, Object, and Private Devotion: The Illumination of Thomas Butler’s Books of Hours
Religions 2020, 11(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010020 - 31 Dec 2019
Abstract
This article considers the major cycles of illumination in two Books of Hours belonging to Thomas Butler, seventh Earl of Ormond (c.1424–1515). The article concludes that the iconography of the two manuscripts reflects the personal and familial piety of the patron [...] Read more.
This article considers the major cycles of illumination in two Books of Hours belonging to Thomas Butler, seventh Earl of Ormond (c.1424–1515). The article concludes that the iconography of the two manuscripts reflects the personal and familial piety of the patron and was designed to act as a tool in the practice of devotion. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Use of Devotional Objects in Catalan Homes during the Late Middle Ages
Religions 2020, 11(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010012 - 25 Dec 2019
Abstract
The purpose of this article is to study domestic devotion in Catalonia in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, based on the information provided by numerous post-mortem inventories and texts written by coetaneous spiritual authors such as Ramon Llull, Francesc Eiximenis and Saint [...] Read more.
The purpose of this article is to study domestic devotion in Catalonia in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, based on the information provided by numerous post-mortem inventories and texts written by coetaneous spiritual authors such as Ramon Llull, Francesc Eiximenis and Saint Vincent Ferrer. Among the objects recorded in the inventories, pieces of furniture and devotional objects laypeople and clergymen used in their pious practices as “material” aid for personal prayer stood out. They were in keeping with the strong visual culture that pervaded the Late Middle Ages. There were retables, oratories and images of religious themes. However, the inventories also listed lesser known but equally recurring objects such as paternosters and Agni Dei. Painted cloths depicting religious scenes that decorated the homes of numerous wealthy Catalan-Aragonese families at that time were also present. Spiritual books such as books of hours and psalters, biblical texts, Legenda Aurea, etc., were mentioned as well. They were part of the incipient libraries of the laity in the Late Middle Ages. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Hereditary Ecclesiae and Domestic Ecclesiolae in Medieval Ragusa (Dubrovnik)
Religions 2020, 11(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010007 - 20 Dec 2019
Abstract
The present paper explores domestic devotional practices in Ragusa (modern day Dubrovnik) from the late-thirteenth through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Considering that important advancements in the understanding of domestic devotions in major Mediterranean cities have recently been made—particularly in Venice—the scrutiny of [...] Read more.
The present paper explores domestic devotional practices in Ragusa (modern day Dubrovnik) from the late-thirteenth through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Considering that important advancements in the understanding of domestic devotions in major Mediterranean cities have recently been made—particularly in Venice—the scrutiny of Ragusan sources enables further reflections on the same phenomena in minor Adriatic centres. Considering the paucity of preserved objects, and the fact that no late medieval domestic space of that time has survived in Dubrovnik, one must turn to archival sources to answer questions pertaining to the arrangements and uses of spaces of domestic worship. Three aspects are analysed here: privately owned chapels—adjoined to the dwellings of urban nobility, prayer areas and holy images inside the houses, and relics in the possession of individuals. In light of its source-driven approach, a significant part of this paper is devoted to the issue of the terminology of devotional props in contemporary documents. On a more general level, the paper aims at showing how, although no direct evidence of domestic devotional practices survives (such as in-depth textual evidence), all indications suggest that it was a deeply family-centred matter. Accordingly, particular attention is paid to the city’s most prominent families, such as Volcassio, Volzio and Sorgo. Finally, the evidence presented in this paper, gathered from both published and unpublished sources, offers valuable material for reflections on the spatial arrangements of domestic devotional spaces, not necessarily confined to the members of a single household, but, through hereditary rights, tied to specific lineages. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Experiencing La Verna at Home: Italian Sixteenth-Century Maiolica Sanctuaries and Chapels
Religions 2020, 11(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010006 - 20 Dec 2019
Abstract
The present study describes the function of small-scale maiolica sanctuaries and chapels created in Italy in the sixteenth century. The so-called eremi encouraged a multisensory engagement of the faithful with complex structures that included receptacles for holy water, openings for the burning of [...] Read more.
The present study describes the function of small-scale maiolica sanctuaries and chapels created in Italy in the sixteenth century. The so-called eremi encouraged a multisensory engagement of the faithful with complex structures that included receptacles for holy water, openings for the burning of incense, and moveable parts. They depicted a saint contemplating a crucifix or a book in a landscape and, as such, they provided a model for everyday pious life. Although they were less lifelike than the full-size recreations of holy sites, such as the Sacro Monte in Varallo, they had the significant advantage of allowing more spontaneous handling. The reduced scale made the objects portable and stimulated a more immediate pious experience. It seems likely that they formed part of an intimate and private setting. The focused attention given here to works by mostly anonymous artists reveals new categories of analysis, such as their religious efficacy. This allows discussion of these neglected artworks from a more positive perspective, in which their spiritual significance, technical accomplishment and functionality come to the fore. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sculptures and Accessories: Domestic Piety in the Norwegian Parish around 1300
Religions 2019, 10(11), 640; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110640 - 19 Nov 2019
Abstract
Eagerly venerated and able to perform miracles, medieval relics and religious artefacts in the Latin West would occasionally also be subject to sensorial and tactile devotional practices. Evidenced by various reports, artefacts were grasped and stroked, kissed and tasted, carried and pulled. For [...] Read more.
Eagerly venerated and able to perform miracles, medieval relics and religious artefacts in the Latin West would occasionally also be subject to sensorial and tactile devotional practices. Evidenced by various reports, artefacts were grasped and stroked, kissed and tasted, carried and pulled. For medieval Norway, however, there is very little documentary and/or physical evidence of such sensorial engagements with religious artefacts. Nevertheless, two church inventories for the parish churches in Hålandsdalen (1306) and Ylmheim (1321/1323) offer a small glimpse of what may have been a semi-domestic devotional practice related to sculpture, namely the embellishing of wooden sculptures in parish churches with silver bracelets and silver brooches. According to wills from England and the continent, jewellery was a common material gift donated to parishes by women. Such a practice is likely to have been taking place in Norway, too, yet the lack of coherent source material complicate the matter. Nonetheless, using a few preserved objects and archaeological finds as well as medieval sermons, homiletic texts and events recorded in Old Norse sagas, this article teases out more of the significances of the silver items mentioned in the two inventories by exploring the interfaces between devotional acts, decorative needs, and possibly gendered experiences, as well as object itineraries between the domestic and the religious space. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
“Equal Rites”: Fragmenting and Healing Bodies in the Early Modern Bay of Kotor
Religions 2019, 10(11), 606; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110606 - 02 Nov 2019
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to examine the exchange of practices that developed when treating the bodies of ordinary laymen and those of saints. Body parts that had been obtained in unorthodox ways were used in private households in a manner strongly [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is to examine the exchange of practices that developed when treating the bodies of ordinary laymen and those of saints. Body parts that had been obtained in unorthodox ways were used in private households in a manner strongly resembling the official methods of relic veneration. Conversely, the church authorities carried out repairs to damaged reliquaries by adopting an approach that mirrored the ways in which common people were healed in their homes (the application of holy images, use of votive gifts, etc.). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Crux Christi Sit Mecum: Devotion to the Apotropaic Cross
Religions 2019, 10(11), 603; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110603 - 30 Oct 2019
Abstract
A late medieval paper amulet containing prayers to St. Dorothy and the Holy Cross was found in a demolished part of a medieval wooden stave church in Torpo, Norway. This article examines the content and the function of this textual amulet by placing [...] Read more.
A late medieval paper amulet containing prayers to St. Dorothy and the Holy Cross was found in a demolished part of a medieval wooden stave church in Torpo, Norway. This article examines the content and the function of this textual amulet by placing it in a wider Scandinavian and Western European context. From the perspective of materiality and sensory-based religious practices, this article will explore the connection between the textual amulet found in Torpo and its relation to the now-lost large wooden cross in Torpo church, and to crosses believed to be wonderworking or miraculous in its proximity. By doing so, this study will shed light on the apotropaic and healing potential that the material and immaterial cross offered the pious in late medieval Norway. The last part of this article addresses the Post-Reformation theological understanding of the amulet, and its use and function in Lutheran Norwegian society. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Cult of Old Believers’ Domestic Icons and the Beginning of Old Belief in Russia in the 17th-18th Centuries
Religions 2019, 10(10), 574; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100574 - 14 Oct 2019
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to present the cult of icons in the Old Believer communities from the perspective of private devotion. For the Old Believers, from the beginning of the movement, in the middle of the 17th century, icons were at [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is to present the cult of icons in the Old Believer communities from the perspective of private devotion. For the Old Believers, from the beginning of the movement, in the middle of the 17th century, icons were at the center of their religious life. They were also at the center of religious conflict between Muscovite Patriarch Nikon, who initiated the reforms of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Old Believers and their proponent, archpriest Avvakum Petrov. Some sources and documents from the 16th and 18th centuries make it possible to analyze the reasons for the popularity of small-sized icons among priested (popovtsy) and priestless (bespopovtsy) Old Believers, not only in their private houses but also in their prayer houses (molennas). The article also shows the role of domestic icons from the middle of the 17th century as a material foundation of the identity of the Old Believers movement. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Devotions in the Ancient Way of Offices: Medieval Domestic Devotion in the Seventeenth Century
Religions 2019, 10(10), 546; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100546 - 23 Sep 2019
Abstract
Devotions in the Ancient Way of Offices was first published as a Catholic primer for worship between intimates, then reformed for individual Protestant worship, and then reformed again for Protestant worship between intimates. Each adaptation engages the so-called “ancient” quality of its offices, [...] Read more.
Devotions in the Ancient Way of Offices was first published as a Catholic primer for worship between intimates, then reformed for individual Protestant worship, and then reformed again for Protestant worship between intimates. Each adaptation engages the so-called “ancient” quality of its offices, primarily medieval, as authorization for the kinds of domestic worship it promotes. I examine how the author and adapters of the text authorize their creative and adaptive devotional texts through a nostalgic interpretation of medieval worship practices as uniquely representative of the worship practices of the early church. While confessional debates had polarized discussions about the lineage of the church, this text represents a trend in seventeenth-century Protestant devotional primers attempting to reconcile spiritual divisions by re-introducing Protestant believers to pre-Reformation practices of domestic devotion. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Furnishing Piety: Beds in High Medieval Jewish Domestic Devotion
Religions 2019, 10(8), 471; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080471 - 07 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In recent years, pre-modern beds have generated extensive scholarly interest. Their social, religious, and economic importance has been rightfully highlighted in the study of domestic piety. Yet, concern has primarily focused on beds in late medieval English homes. This essay uses Hebrew texts [...] Read more.
In recent years, pre-modern beds have generated extensive scholarly interest. Their social, religious, and economic importance has been rightfully highlighted in the study of domestic piety. Yet, concern has primarily focused on beds in late medieval English homes. This essay uses Hebrew texts from thirteenth-century Southern Germany, primarily Sefer Hasidim, to further this analysis of the role of the bed in shaping medieval domestic devotion. Jewish notions about the social, moral, and sexual significance of the bed reflect those identified in late medieval Christian culture. These ideas inspired numerous rituals practiced in Jewish homes. Yet, the bed and the remnants of sex assumed to be found in it also frustrated Jewish attempts to perform domestic devotion. These findings highlight the complicated nature of the home and how medieval people had to navigate both its opportunities and challenges in order to foster a rich culture of domestic devotion. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Bringing Pilgrimage Home: The Production, Iconography, and Domestic Use of Late-Medieval Devotional Objects by Ordinary People
Religions 2019, 10(6), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060392 - 20 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Tracing the devotional beliefs and practices of everyday people during the late Middle Ages through documents is tricky, as most were written with other purposes in mind. To make up for this, it is necessary to examine the abundant material culture that survives [...] Read more.
Tracing the devotional beliefs and practices of everyday people during the late Middle Ages through documents is tricky, as most were written with other purposes in mind. To make up for this, it is necessary to examine the abundant material culture that survives from this period. By analyzing a variety of finds and comparing them with well-known objects used by the upper classes, it becomes evident that ordinary people shared the same religious views and practices. Both classes were interested in pieces that inspired active devotional and amuletic practice. They were intended to be gazed at and handled, then rested on a tabletop or nailed to a wall. Some folded, some rang, some could be blown through, while others were gazed upon. Lower quality materials and production of pieces had no impact on their ultimate use in the home. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
From Domestic Devotion to the Church Altar: Venerating Icons in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Adriatic
Religions 2019, 10(6), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060390 - 19 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Although traditionally associated with Eastern Christianity, the practice of venerating icons became deeply rooted in the Catholic societies of the broad Adriatic region from the Late Middle Ages onwards and was an indispensable part of everyday popular piety. The evidence lies in the [...] Read more.
Although traditionally associated with Eastern Christianity, the practice of venerating icons became deeply rooted in the Catholic societies of the broad Adriatic region from the Late Middle Ages onwards and was an indispensable part of everyday popular piety. The evidence lies in the massive amount of icons located today in public and private collections throughout the Italian Peninsula, Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro. At a time when Greeks were branded as “schismatics”, and although the Byzantine maniera greca had become obsolete in Western European art, icon painting managed to survive at the margins of the Renaissance, and ultimately went through its own renaissance in the sixteenth century. Omnipresent in Catholic households, icons were very often donated to churches as votive offerings and were gradually transformed into the focal points of collective public devotion. Through the combined study of visual evidence, archival records and literary sources, this article will shed light on the socio-political, confessional, and artistic dynamics that allowed for Byzantine or Byzantinizing icons to gain unprecedented popularity throughout the Catholic milieus of the Late Medieval and Early Modern Adriatic, and become integrated into domestic and public devotional practices. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Saint in the Woods: Semi-Domestic Shrines in Rural Sweden, c. 1500–1800
Religions 2019, 10(6), 386; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060386 - 17 Jun 2019
Abstract
In the seventeenth century, a common saying in parts of rural Sweden when discussing someone lacking in piety was that they went to neither church nor cross. This reflects the practice of placing shrines in the fields, along the roads and in the [...] Read more.
In the seventeenth century, a common saying in parts of rural Sweden when discussing someone lacking in piety was that they went to neither church nor cross. This reflects the practice of placing shrines in the fields, along the roads and in the woods as a communal semi-domestic complement to official church space. In the remote woodland areas of Sweden, the distance between parish churches could be considerable, and many parishioners were not able to attend church on a regular, weekly basis. At these sites, parishioners could kneel and make their prayers as a complement to church service. However, they could also be used as points of contact in communicating domestic issues with the divine, with votives being left at the shrines by those hoping for deliverance from disease and difficult childbirths. In the post-reformation period, such sites were regarded with suspicion by the higher ranks of the clergy, and were often considered “idolatrous” and “superstitious”. Yet, they seem to have filled an important religious need among their laity that made it possible to interact with the divine on sites bordering the domestic and the public space of the church. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Devotional Annotations: Preserving the Family’s Memory in Arabic Manuscripts
Religions 2019, 10(6), 376; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060376 - 07 Jun 2019
Abstract
This contribution explores a peculiar kind of annotation in Arabic multiple-text manuscripts. These manuscripts were often compiled as a personal ‘one-volume library’, containing copies and excerpts of a unique selection of texts. Further, they were often used for less guided writing activities. The [...] Read more.
This contribution explores a peculiar kind of annotation in Arabic multiple-text manuscripts. These manuscripts were often compiled as a personal ‘one-volume library’, containing copies and excerpts of a unique selection of texts. Further, they were often used for less guided writing activities. The owners left notes, lists and sometimes even sketches in the margins or on blank pages between the texts. Among these, lists of life dates of relatives are a valuable source for studies on domestic devotion. On the one hand, they give glimpses on the composition of households. How many people lived together and who were they? These lists inform us about names regardless of gender. On the other hand, the penning of these list is in itself a trace of a practice intricately tied to the familial and domestic spheres. These lists are usually the only place, in which the memory of those people is preserved. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Masterpieces, Altarpieces, and Devotional Prints: Close and Distant Encounters with Michelangelo’s Vatican Pietà
Religions 2019, 10(5), 309; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050309 - 07 May 2019
Abstract
Focussing on the response to the Vatican Pietà and perversely using as a point of departure a 1549 remark on Michelangelo as an ‘inventor of filth,’ this article aims to present Michelangelo as an involuntary inventor of devotional images. The article explores hitherto [...] Read more.
Focussing on the response to the Vatican Pietà and perversely using as a point of departure a 1549 remark on Michelangelo as an ‘inventor of filth,’ this article aims to present Michelangelo as an involuntary inventor of devotional images. The article explores hitherto unconsidered aspects of the reception of the Vatican Pietà from the mid-sixteenth into the early seventeenth century. The material includes mediocre anonymous woodcuts, and elaborate engravings and etchings by renowned masters: Giulio Bonasone, Cornelis Cort, Jacques Callot and Lucas Kilian. A complex chain of relationships is traced among various works, some referring directly to the Vatican Pietà, some indirectly, neither designed nor perceived as its reproductions, but conceived as illustrations of the Syriac translation of the New Testament, of Latin and German editions of Peter Canisius’s Little catechism, of the frontispiece of the Règlement et établissement de la Compagnie des Pénitents blancs de la Ville de Nancy—but above all, widespread as single-leaf popular devotional images. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
What Julian Saw: The Embodied Showings and the Items for Private Devotion
Religions 2019, 10(4), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040245 - 02 Apr 2019
Abstract
The article traces potential visual sources of Julian of Norwich’s (1343–after 1416) Revelations or Showings, suggesting that many of them come from familiar everyday devotional objects such as Psalters, Books of Hours, or rosary beads. It attempts to approach Julian’s text from [...] Read more.
The article traces potential visual sources of Julian of Norwich’s (1343–after 1416) Revelations or Showings, suggesting that many of them come from familiar everyday devotional objects such as Psalters, Books of Hours, or rosary beads. It attempts to approach Julian’s text from the perspective of neuromedievalism, combining more familiar textual analysis with some recent findings in clinical psychology and neuroscience. By doing so, the essay emphasizes the embodied nature of Julian’s visions and devotions as opposed to the more apophatic approach expected from a mystic. Full article
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