Bloody Penances

27 10 2008

I completely forgot to talk about the flagellants and other Holy Week traditions in southern Italy, as well as other folk traditions such as the professional mourning women and the dragging on the tongue on the floor. The point that Carroll makes is that the practices shown above in the video as well as other extravagances of Italian folk Catholicism often were introduced by preaching orders during the Counter-Reformation and far from “medieval” in origin. The things that we regard as “most pagan” in traditional Catholicism were often the products of early modern theological insights.





“Poorly Catechized” – Part II

27 10 2008

Michael P. Carroll begins his book, Veiled Threats: The Logic of Popular Catholicism in Italy with an anecdote meant to shock the modern reader. After the Council of Trent, mendicant orders were sent into the Italian countryside to better inform the peasants about the Catholic religion. They were shocked and dismayed about what they found, to the point that they began to call the region, “the Italian Indies”. On what they thought were the essential questions of the Faith, these peasants were hopelessly ignorant. The most shocking incident was when the preachers asked how many gods there are. Some peasants would say three, ten, one hundred, and even more. When asked what a god was then, they would answer that the local priest or boss was a god, or the Pope, or their picture of the Madonna.
Read the rest of this entry »