Popular Religion and Clerical Reformers

John McManners

in Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780198270041
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600692 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 Popular Religion and Clerical Reformers

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Methodological problems abound in the study of the history of popular religion, and it is better not to make too rigid a division between the religion of the people and that of the clerical establishment. Literacy was growing in the eighteenth century and most reading matter had a religious content, but its use for the understanding of popular mentalities is limited. The reforming clergy saw themselves as the guardians of morals and made a consistent effort to suppress frivolity at religious festivities and to limit the number of holidays; here acting in concert with the state and Enlightenment reformers who wished to limit the days on which people did not work. The clergy also sought to control the credulity of the people by asserting their control over what should be considered a miracle and by absorbing folk practices into the fabric of routine institutional religion.

Keywords: folklore; holidays; literacy; miracles; popular literature; popular religion

Chapter.  14238 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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