Showing posts with label the Counter Reformation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the Counter Reformation. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Also from Cambridge University Press: A New Book on the Counter-Reformation

While searching for Andy Wood's forthcoming book, The Memory of the People on the Cambridge University Press website, I found this intriguing study, The Sensuous in the Counter-Reformation Church (Cambridge University Press; Not yet published - available from July 2013), edited by: Marcia B. Hall and Tracy E. Cooper, both of Temple University, Philadelphia:

This book examines the promotion of the sensuous as part of religious experience in the Roman Catholic Church of the early modern period. During the Counter-Reformation, every aspect of religious and devotional practice was reviewed, including the role of art and architecture, and the invocation of the five senses to incite devotion became a hotly contested topic. The Protestants condemned the material cult of veneration of relics and images, rejecting the importance of emotion and the senses and instead promoting the power of reason in receiving the Word of God. After much debate, the Church concluded that the senses are necessary to appreciate the sublime, and that they derive from the Holy Spirit. As part of its attempt to win back the faithful, the Church embraced the sensuous and promoted the use of images, relics, liturgy, processions, music, and theater as important parts of religious experience.

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction; Marcia B. Hall
2. The sensuous: recent research; Tracy E. Cooper
3. Trent, sacred images, and Catholics' senses of the sensuous; John W. O'Malley
4. The world made flesh: spiritual subjects and carnal depictions in Renaissance art; Bette Talvacchia
5. How words control images: the rhetoric of decorum in Counter-Reformation Italy; Robert Gaston
6. Custodia degli occhi: discipline and desire in post-Tridentine Italian art; Maria Loh
7. Raffaelle Borghini and the corpus of Florentine art in an age of reform; Stuart Lingo
8. Censure and censorship in Rome ca.1600: visitation of Clement VIII and the visual arts; Opher Mansour
9. Painting virtuously: the Counter-Reform and the reform of artists' education in Rome between guild and academy; Peter Lukehart
10. Carlo Borromeo and the dangers of lay women in church; Richard Scofield
11. 'To be in heaven': Saint Filippo Neri between aesthetic emotion and mystical ecstasy; Costanza Barbieri
12. Rebuilding faith through art: Christoph Schwarz's altarpiece for the new Jesuit school in Munich Jeffrey Chipps Smith
13. 'Until shadows disperse': Augustine's twilight; Meredith Gill
14. A machine for souls: allegory before and after Trent; Amy Powell.

Some of the titles of the essays reminded me of Sir Kenneth Clark's assessment of Catholic Counter-Reformation efforts, especially in art and architecture, as they asserted Catholic teaching and thought about the Blessed Virgin Mary, the saints, the Sacraments, and other controversies--"the Church gave imaginative expression to deep-seated human impulses. And it had another great strength which one may say was part of Mediterranean civilisation--or at any rate a legacy from the pagan Renaissance: it was not afraid of the human body. . . . [Speaking of Titian, Rubens, and  Bernini] In their work the conflict between flesh and spirit is gloriously resolved." (pages 178 to 182, Chapter 7, Grandeur and Obedience, Civilisation: A Personal View).

Clark uses Peter Paul Ruben's painting, "Sinners Saved by Penitence", as an example--and this site features the illustrated script of the episode--noting, "And in Rubens's picture of that extremely un-Protestant subject "Sinners saved by Penitence", he has achieved in the repentant Magdalene, and even in the figure of Christ himself, a noble sensuality, perfectly at one with an unquestioning faith." (page 182). Father John O'Malley's essay and Bette Talvacchia's particularly seem to address Clark's analysis.

Because of my interest in the Counter-Reformation, I might have to queue this book up on my wish list!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Spanish Netherlands and Scherpenheuvel

Mentioning the Archduke Albert and the Spanish Netherlands in the post about composer Peter Philips the other day reminded me of our visit to Scherpenheuvel (Sharp Hill) in Belgium during the 2000 Jubilee Year. During our second visit to Belgium (work related for my husband; fun related for me), our hosts took us to the Basilica of Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel in the Flemish Brabant region of Belgium. A series of accidents led both Mark and I to the shrine--the wife of the manager of the parts distribution company located near Brussels was taking me to Scherpenheuvel; her car broke down; she called her husband and her cousin. Her husband (and my husband) left work to meet us at her cousin's house/business (he had a tow truck) to drive us on to Scherpenheuvel. On the way to her cousin's house, the brakes failed on the tow truck as we exited the highway! He had to use the handbrake.

We waited at her cousin's house for her husband--everyone spoke Flemish in the household but we did have the universal language of a silly little jack russell puppy who played fetch and tug of war. The cousin's daughter was a flight attendant on the now defunct Belgian airline, Sabena, and when she spoke English she had a perfect Midwest American accent. Mark and his contact arrived, and we went off to Scherpenheuvel. This was in the days before digital cameras when, gasp, we took pictures and then came home, took the film out of the camera and went to a store to have it developed, waited for the store to call us and then went to the store to pick up the pictures!! (I am speaking of 12 years ago, in the Dark Ages of 35 mm and APS film.) That explains why the two pictures I've posted are from the wikipedia commons on Scherpenheuvel:


And the websites for Scherpenheuvel are in Flemish, so here's a link to the wikipedia entry for the Basilica and its role as a Marian pilgrimage shrine in Belgium. The Archduke Albert whom Peter Philips served, and his wife, the Spanish Infanta Isabella (Philip II's daughter) gave funds for the establishment of the shrine, the town, and the basilica. It was a major pilgrimage site and the city that grew up around it provided all the services of lodging, restaurants, and shopping--and protections with its walls. We ate lunch, as I recall, in a big restaurant called The Golden Ram, large enough to accommodate the big pilgrimage groups during the season from May to November.

A couple of years later, I read this book about the Archbishop of Mechelen, Mathias Hovius, by Craig Harline of BYU and Eddy Put: A Bishop's Tale: Mathias Hovius Among His Flock in Seventeenth-Century Flanders (which is now out-of-print at Yale University Press). Charlotte Allen reviewed it for First Things here:
Fortunately for scholars (and for us), Hovius kept a detailed daybook of all his activities—his building projects, his ceaseless and wearying parish visits, and the endless round of petitions and disputes, on issues ranging from pornography and marriage annulments to questions of heresy—that he adjudicated in his busy ecclesiastical court. Most of the journal has been lost, but in 1987, Harline, a history professor at Brigham Young University, and Put, a Belgian archivist, discovered in a seminary library in Mechelin the last volume, covering the period from 1617 to Hovius’ death. This book is the fruit of their reconstruction of Hovius’ life from that diary and other contemporary documents.

Harline, author of the well–received Burdens of Sister Margaret: Inside a Seventeenth–Century Convent, decided to focus on Hovius for his second book as a corrective to the worthy but perhaps exaggerated preoccupation of today’s medievalists with eclectic and colorful “ordinary” Catholicism in contrast to the official kind. Harline and Put
decided that the career of a bishop would offer as good a vantage point as any for looking into the seventeenth–century social world. They thought that since “religious life was a constant negotiation among all parties rather than a simple matter of the hierarchy proclaiming and the flock obeying, then being a bishop was hardly the mundane, absolutist task it has been made out to be.”

Making one’s way as a Catholic prelate in seventeenth–century Flanders required negotiating skills and many other skills besides. To the north lay the staunchly Calvinist Dutch Republic, product of a protracted war of secession that had begun in the 1560s, when Hovius, born in 1542, was a young man. Until the Dutch formally declared their independence in 1581, more or less ending the strife, all of the Low Countries belonged to Philip II of Spain, who had inherited them from his father, the Flanders–born Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

After the Dutch breakaway, Flanders became known as the Spanish Netherlands, an uncomfortable moniker. Even the Catholics of the Low Countries detested the dour and culturally alien Philip, who tried to reduce their once–auto­ nomous territories to a Spanish province and who introduced the Inquisition to Flanders. At the very end of his life in 1599, Philip turned the Spanish Netherlands over to his daughter Isabella and her husband, Prince Albert of Austria, and made it a quasi–independent archduchy. Isabella and Albert were popular sovereigns, and a measure of peace finally prevailed.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The English Reformation Today, Episode Five

I begin month two of this three month commitment to a weekly radio show--The Engish Reformation Today! Today we'll discuss--and I hope you'll call in so we do have a discussion--the reign of Mary I, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon's daughter, who was the first Queen Regnant of England. She was the first queen to be crowned and anointed in almost the same ceremony as all the previous kings of England (with slight adaptations due her sex) and she restored Catholicism in England--and she also had Protestants and heretics burned alive at the stake. That's why she's often called "Bloody Mary" of course.

For the opening prayer, we'll begin with this prayer to Our Lady of Walsingham:

O blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon us, our parish, our country, our homes, and our families, and upon all who greatly hope and trust in your prayers, (especially the intentions of the Radio Maria community). By you it was that Jesus, our Savior and hope, was given to the world; and he has given you to us that we may hope still more. Plead for us your children, whom you did receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of your Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we all may be made worthy to see and praise God, together with you in our heavenly home. Amen.

Our Lady of Walsingham, Pray for us.

Today's topic is certainly not without controversy. Mary I came to the throne intending to restore Catholicism and the ties of the Church in England with the Pope and the universal Church--and I'll certainly describe the constructive program developed by Reginald Cardinal Pole the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury--a program that even anticipated many of the reforms of the Council of Trent. In addition to all those positive efforts, however, her government revived and enforced the Heresy Laws that had been repealed during the reign of Edward VI--and we have to evaluate the repercussions of the heresy campaigns that led to the executions of almost three hundred men and women, burned alive at the stake.

As background, I offer this review article I wrote for First Things magazine in 2009 that summarizes the state of Marian studies at that point. Here's an exceprt:

Why so much attention now on this queen, whom many historians and common opinion have written off as an anomaly the history of English monacrchy—bigoted, cruel, and foreign? Part of it must be the overall fascination with the Tudor dynasty. Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn, and Henry’s other spouses have been studied enough: It’s just Mary’s turn—and a new interpretation of her old story will provoke interest

I propose that the attention is more securely founded upon the revisionist history of the English Reformation. The work of Eamon Duffy, Christopher Haigh, John Bossy, Alison Shell, and others have demonstrated, at least, that the English Reformation was not the break with the past the Whig historical myth of progress in English history proclaimed. Some English people wanted to remain Catholic; they wanted the Mass, devotion to Mary and the saints, prayer for the dead, and the monasteries to stay open, and they did not like the religious changes Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I legislated and forced on them. The history of rebellion, resistance, and recusancy throughout those reigns represents a clear pattern.

Then what was the role of Mary I’s reign in this history of religious change? Was it just another religious swing back and forth during the Tudor dynasty? Was her re-establishment of Catholicism simply a revival of the Middle Ages without consideration of the efforts of the Council of Trent and the counter-reformation movement?

Eamon Duffy answers that last question with a well documented, cogently argued, “not hardly.” Reginald Cardinal Pole, who came within a few votes of being elected pope in 1549, led the Catholic revival in terms Thomas More, John Fisher, John Colet, and Erasmus would have understood: centered on the sacraments, Sacred Scripture and tradition, homilies and catechesis, humanist learning. Duffy’s book focuses on Pole’s program for reform and renewal that anticipated the Council of Trent: diocesan seminaries, resident bishops, a comprehensive catechism—even tabernacles on altars and an English translation of the Holy Bible. . . .

These five reevaluations [the books I reviewed] of Mary I and her reign offer not apologies or whitewash but argue for a more dispassionate awareness of her circumstances, efforts, and achievements. Whether or not this new view of Mary I is accepted may depend on open-mindedness and a willingness, for instance, to understand the propaganda of John Foxe and the Black Legend of Catholicism in English History.

The crucial issue for the success or failure of her reign was whether she had a Catholic heir to succeed her. Since she did not, Elizabeth succeeded to the throne and dismissed all of Pole’s bishops save one. As Elizabeth ignored her last will and testament, historians ignored Mary’s circumstances, forgot her efforts and achievements and she gained a nickname she might not deserve. But she and Cardinal Pole left a legacy beyond the fires of Smithfield: an underground counter-reformation Catholicism in England, supporting the faithful and ready for revival again—even if it had to wait almost 300 years.

And I would say this trend in studying the reign of Mary I has continued--her reign is NOT just an anomaly in the progression of England as a Protestant country--but that the legacy of her reign is decidedly mixed. On the one hand, her Archbishop of Canterbury had certainly turned around the Catholic hierarchy and many of the priests, recalling them to the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" Church: only one bishop from her reign submitted to Elizabeth I's Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity when all BUT one submitted during the reign of Henry VIII. But on the other hand, the fires of Smithfield and the propaganda opportunity seized by John Foxe and others, created a cultural memory about the perils of a Catholic ruler or even Catholic influence on society that endured throughout the centuries, revived during the reign of James II, and contributes to a certain anti-Catholicism even today.

I welcome all listeners of Radio Maria US to my blog, whether you're listening on one of their radio stations or on line or through one of their apps. Next week on The English Reformation Today we'll discuss the establishment of the via media Church of England in Elizabeth I's first Parliament and the beginning of recusancy in England. I invite you to call in with questions and comments toll-free at 866-333-MARY(6279). Just a reminder, too, that podcasts of previous episodes of The English Reformation Today are available on the Radio Maria US website.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

TRENT AND ALL THAT: Catholic Reformation or Counter Reformation? Or Something Else??

One of the last purchases on my Eighth Day Books gift certificate from my husband this Christmas is Trent and All That: Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era by John W. O'Malley. Previously, I have enjoyed reading his book Four Cultures of the West (prophetic, academic, humanistic, performance/art). Re: this book, Harvard University Press states:

Counter Reformation, Catholic Reformation, the Baroque Age, the Tridentine Age, the Confessional Age: why does Catholicism in the early modern era go by so many names? And what political situations, what religious and cultural prejudices in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries gave rise to this confusion? Taking up these questions, John O’Malley works out a remarkable guide to the intellectual and historical developments behind the concepts of Catholic reform, the Counter Reformation, and, in his felicitous term, Early Modern Catholicism. The result is the single best overview of scholarship on Catholicism in early modern Europe, delivered in a pithy, lucid, and entertaining style. Although its subject is fundamental to virtually all other issues relating to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, there is no other book like this in any language.

More than a historiographical review, Trent and All That makes a compelling case for subsuming the present confusion of terminology under the concept of Early Modern Catholicism. The term indicates clearly what this book so eloquently demonstrates: that Early Modern Catholicism was an aspect of early modern history, which it strongly influenced and by which it was itself in large measure determined. As a reviewer commented, O’Malley’s discussion of terminology "opens up a different way of conceiving of the whole history of Catholicism between the Reformation and the French Revolution."

Table of Contents:
Introduction: What’s in a Name?
1. How It All Began
2. Hubert Jedi and the Classic Position
3. England and Italy in Jedin’s Wake
4. France, Germany, and Beyond
Conclusion: There’s Much in a Name

The work he highlights in chapter three is H. Outram Evennett's Spirit of the Counter-Reformation, based on his Birkbeck Lectures of 1951 edited by John Bossy, one of Evennett's students and the author of the major study on English Catholicism, The English Catholic Community, 1570-1850 . What both O'Malley and Bossy point out in their evaulation of Evennett's achievement in this book (which has NOT BEEN OUT OF PRINT since publication), is that he was working in a cultural milieu, British academia at the University of Cambridge that of course had not considered the Catholic side of early modern history at all. I read Evennett's book a few years ago while preparing a couple of presentations on the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic/Counter Reformation for my parish's RCIA program.

After tracing the development of the names of what O'Malley calls "the Catholic side" of the religious changes that happened in Europe during the 16th and 17th century, he summarizes their effectiveness and proposes a new name (as of 2001, at least): Early Modern Catholicism. The other terms used: The Counter Reformation (describes the actions taken by the Catholic Church to "counter" the Protestant Reformation; The Catholic Reformation (describes the actions taken by the Catholic Church to address abuses, improve discipline); The Tridentine Age (focuses on the efforts of the Council of Trent); Confessional Catholicism (focuses on the efforts of states and nations to identify themselves politically as Catholic)--each have strengths and weaknesses in attempting to summarize the Church's activities in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The term O'Malley proposes, Early Modern Catholicism, suffers, as he admits, from some vagueness but benefits by comprehending all the other names under its big tent, and other names besides--like the Baroque Era, the Age of Gold in Spain, the Great Century in France, etc. Robert S. Miola uses that term in the title of his great anthology.

Although he uses yet another term for the Catholic response to the Protestant Reformation ("The Reinvention of Catholicism") I thought of Nathan Mitchell's book on the Rosary as I read O'Malley describing how his term Early Modern Catholicism allows much more leeway in discussing people and events that don't fit under the categories claimed in the names listed above: the missionary efforts (including England); the devotional and confraternity movements and new orders founded in the 16th and 17th centuries, like the Oratory; and the role of women, the Ursulines, Mary of Agreda, etc.

Another book that represents that broader reach and uses YET ANOTHER TERM, "Catholic Renewal" also demonstrates the dating issue O'Malley brings up, extending the period from 1540 to 1770, up to Enlightenment times. The second edition added a chapter on "The Catholic Book", which means I need to supplement the edition I already have!

Finally, there is Robert Bireley's book, The Refashioning of Catholicism, 1450-1700: A Reassessment of the Counter Reformation published by Catholic University of America Press:

Throughout its history, Christianity has adapted to contemporary society and culture in order to reach people effectively and have an impact on the world. This process often evokes controversy. Certainly this is the case in the current century, and so it was in the sixteenth. Robert Bireley argues that early modern Catholicism, the period known more traditionally as the Counter Reformation, was both shaped by and an active response to the profound changes of the sixteenth century--the growth of the state; economic expansion and social dislocation; European colonialism across the seas; the Renaissance; and, of course, the Protestant Reformation.

Bireley finds that there were two fundamental, contrasting desires that helped shape early modern Catholicism: the desire especially of a lay elite to lead a full Christian life in the world and the widespread desire for order and discipline after the upheavals of the long sixteenth century. He devotes particular attention to new methods of evangelization in the Old World and the New, education at the elementary, secondary, and university levels, the new active religious orders of women as well as men, and the effort to create a spirituality for the Christian living in the world.

This book will be of great value to all those studying the political, social, religious, and cultural history of the period.

What term do you think best describes "the Catholic side" of the 16th and 17th centuries? Please cast your vote in the comment box and tell why:

1) Catholic Counter Reformation
2) Catholic Reformation
3) Tridentine Age
4) Confessional Catholicism
5) Early Modern Catholicism
6) Catholic Renewal or Catholic Refashioning
7) Your Own Term