Planting the Cross

Barbara B. Diefendorf

Hard Cover

Barcode: 9780190887025

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The first thing that Catholic religious orders did when they arrived in a town to establish a new community was to plant the crossÑto erect a large wooden cross where the church was to stand. The cross was a contested symbol in the civil wars that reduced France to near anarchy in the sixteenth century. Protestants tore down crosses to mark their disdain for popish superstition; Catholics swore to erect a thousand new crosses for every one destroyed. Fighting words at the time, the vow to erect a thousand new crosses was expressed in the rapid multiplication of reformed religious congregations once peace arrived. In this book, Barbara B. Diefendorf examines the beginnings of the Catholic Reformation in France and shows how profoundly the movement was shaped by the experience of religious war. She analyzes convents and monasteries in three regionsÑParis, Provence, and LanguedocÑas they struggled to survive the wars and then to raise standards and instill a new piety in their members in their aftermath. What emerges are stories of nuns left homeless by the wars, of monks rebelling against both abbot and king, of ascetic friars reviving Catholic devotion in a Protestant-dominated South, and of a Dominican order battling demonic possession.Illuminating persistent debates about the purpose of monastic life, Planting the Cross underscores the diverse paths religious reform took within different local settings and offers new perspectives on the evolution of early modern French Catholicism.


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