Sacred Shrines and Profane Parishes: Diverging Conceptions of Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century Barcelona

Friday, January 7, 2011: 2:30 PM
Fairfield Room (Marriott Boston Copley Place)
Andrea J. Smidt , Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA
This paper exposes the divide between parish priests and parishioners in the diocese of Barcelona in the mid- to late-18th century.  In both city and rural parishes, parish priests consistently found many of their parishioners absent from masses at the parish church on Sundays and holidays—observance that was considered sacred and essential to Catholicism from the “official” perspective of the Catholic Church hierarchy.  Meanwhile, parishioners frequented local shrines and chapels on Sundays and holidays, since they considered such places sacred and the processions and rituals involved were oftentimes time-honored traditions.  The overwhelmingly negative response to such local religious practices by the parish priests not only demonstrates the success of Tridentine reform in seminary education of parish priests by the mid 18th century but also reveals the deeply entrenched obstacles one faced, even on the verge of the modern era, in reforming and assimilating popular conceptions of Catholicism towards the orthodox confessional variety.
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