Reforms of Christian Life in Sixteenth-Century Italy  book cover
1st Edition

Reforms of Christian Life in Sixteenth-Century Italy

ISBN 9780367763473
Published March 31, 2022 by Routledge
280 Pages

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Book Description

Reforms of Christian Life presents a new narrative of the role of the Barnabites and Angelics, the Ursulines and the Somascans (founded in Northern Italy in the 1530s by Battista da Crema, Angela Merici, and Girolamo Miani) within sixteenth-century Italian reform movements.

While historiography has considered these companies under the category of ‘Catholic Reformation,’ this book argues that they promoted an ‘unconventional’ view of perfection and of the Church that was alternative to both Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism and through which they wanted to reform society, rather than the ecclesiastical institution. By highlighting the complex articulation of perceptions of ‘Christian life,’ and by exploring neglected connections among devout milieus, Mazzonis considers the sodalities in continuity with a fifteenth-century ascetic-mystical current and in relation to contemporary institutes such as the Jesuits and the Oratorians, irenic reforming circles like that of Juan de Valdés, and post-Tridentine ecclesiastical reformers including Charles Borromeo. This volume shows that reforming trends were more varied and fluid than previously thought and contributes to cultural and gender analyses of the religious mentality of the period.

Reforms of Christian Life is a useful tool for students and scholars of medieval and early modern religious and cultural history.

Table of Contents

1. The Rise of the Companies, their Founders and their Spiritual Context  2. The Founders’ Concept of Christian Life  3. The Perception of the Church  4. The Companies and the Italian Reformist Circles  5. The Companies in the Late Sixteenth Century


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Querciolo Mazzonis teaches History of Christianity at the University of Teramo. He researches on religious history in the Italian Renaissance from a cultural and gender perspective. Publications include a monograph on Angela Merici (2007), essays on devout women and Battista da Crema (2020).