Across Europe, the parish church has stood for centuries at the centre of local communities; it was the focal point of its religious life, the rituals performed there marked the stages of life from the cradle to the grave. Nonetheless the church itself artistically and architecturally stood apart from the parish community. It was often the largest and only stone-built building in a village; it was legally distinct being subject to canon law, as well as consecrated for the celebration of religious rites. The buildings associated with the "cure of souls" were sacred sites or holy places, where humanity interacted with the divine. In spite of the importance of the parish church, these buildings have generally not received the same attention from historians as non-parochial places of worship. This collection of essays redresses this balance and reflects on the parish church across a number of confessions - Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed and Anti-Trinitarian - during the early modern period. Rather than providing a series of case studies of individual buildings, each essay looks at the evolution of parish churches in response to religious reform as well as confessional change and upheaval. They examine aspects of their design and construction; furnishings and material culture; liturgy and the use of the parish church. While these essays range widely across Europe, the volume also considers how religious provision and the parish church were translated into a global context with colonial and commercial expansion in the Americas and Asia. This interdisciplinary volume seeks to identify what was distinctive about the parish church for the congregations that gathered in them for worship and for communities across the early modern world.
Preface; The early modern parish church: an introduction, Andrew Spicer; Patrician and episcopal rivalry for the Milanese parish church: San Nazaro in Brolo during French and Spanish rule, Philippa Woodcock; Exploring the features and challenges of the urban parish church in the southern Low Countries: the case of 16th-century Ghent, Anne-Laure Van Bruaene; The Counter Reformation and the parish church in western Brittany (France) 1500-1700, Elizabeth Tingle; The body of the faithful: Joseph Furttenbach’s 1649 Lutheran Church plans, Emily Fisher Gray; Staging the Eucharist, adiaphora, and shaping Lutheran identities in the Transylvanian parish church, Evelin Wetter; Parish churches in Geneva and the Swiss Romande, Andrew Spicer; ‘Which of them do belong to the parish or not’: the changing rural parish in the Dutch Republic after the Reformation, Arjan Nobel; Unitarian parish churches in early modern Transylvania, Maria Crăciun; Heaven on earth: churches in early modern Hispanic America, Andrew Redden; Franciscans and the parish in early modern Brazil, Ivan Cavalcanti Filho; Parish churches, colonization and conversion in Portuguese Goa, Mallica Kumbera Landrus; Dutch churches in Asia, Andrew Spicer; ‘To build up the walls of Jerusalem’: Anglican churches in 17th-century Virginia, Carl Lounsbury; Parish churches in the early modern world: an afterword, Beat Kümi; Index