Chapter

The Suffering Indian Nun and the Wandering (Drunken) Irish Priest

Corinne G. Dempsey

in Bringing the Sacred Down to Earth

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199860333
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919598 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860333.003.0002
The Suffering Indian Nun and the Wandering (Drunken) Irish Priest

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This chapter draws from fieldwork in Kerala, south India, and from folkloric and historical materials from northwestern Ireland to explore the heroic figures of the wandering priest and the suffering nun. When portrayed by their respective Churches, these Indian and Irish Catholic figures appear as inverted colonial stereotypes that act as antidotes to imperial imposition. In the realm of folklore and in response to more immediate human concerns, they offer sacred healing powers that require adjustments to their official portrayals, causing them to turn away from, if not against, institutional incarnations and prescriptions. This series of turns—in the service of nationalist Church politics and earthly human needs—demonstrates similar Indian and Irish religious responses to colonialism and to human suffering. At the same time, the juxtaposed interplay between colonialism and anticolonialism, institutional prescription and popular concern, demonstrates ways in which Catholic Christianities in India and Ireland are layered and possessed of divergent realities, represented by both institutional and earthbound approaches to the sacred.

Keywords: Indian Christianity; India; Ireland; Catholicism; folklore; colonialism; suffering

Chapter.  11766 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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