The Religion of the People

Owen Chadwick

in The Popes and European Revolution

Published in print March 1980 | ISBN: 9780198269199
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600487 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 The Religion of the People

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An account is given of the slow reforming changes that occurred in the Catholic Church in Europe in the eighteenth century, before the Enlightenment. The Church of that time still mingled magic with religion, and this was fostered by materialistic moments in the cult of saints, certain forms of faith‐healing, the use of holy objects such as relics or Biblical texts in the manner of charms, the more superstitious goals of pilgrimage, and the crudities of a mental haze about indulgences. Witches became less persecuted, Jews less uncomfortable, science began to play a part in everyday life, historians began to criticize saints, sanctuaries became less important, public opinion moved against the mendicant and beggar, and educated opinion became more confident in assailing the ‘childish’ (cults, symbolism, etc.) in the Church. The congregation became weightier in the structure of worship, there were sporadic attempts to make people understand by the use of readings in the vernacular or Bible reading by laymen, to revive the communion at its proper place in the liturgy, and some forms of Church music were popularized.

Keywords: Catholic Church; change; Church music; communion; Europe; faith‐healing; history; Jews; liturgy; pilgrimage; public opinion; reform; religious history; saints; sanctuaries; symbolism; vernacular; witches; worship

Chapter.  42215 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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