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108BOOK REVIEWS Veiled Threats:The Logic ofPopular Catholicism in Italy. By Michael P. CarroU. (Baltimore:The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1996. Pp. xvi, 275. $3995.) In Veiled Threats Michael CarroU returns to the study of popular CathoUcism Ln Italy, a project he began with Madonnas That Maim (Baltimore:The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992). In this study, however, CarroU moves weU beyond his interest m Marian devotions to present a wide-ranging account ofpopular CathoUcism in Italy since the Counter-Reformation. CarroU's work is based on an extensive reading ofthe secondary Uterature,which he combines with research in Counter-Reformation pamphlets and theological treatises, and with observations based on his own fieldwork. In his conclusion CarroU returns again to the psychoanalytic model he has employed in earlier works to explain his evidence, but the body of the text is by no means a reductive analysis, and roots his material nrmly in the historical context of Counter-Reformation Italy. CarroU opens with a chapter in which he defends the concept ofpopular reUgion against critics such as EUen Badone, WUUam Christian, Jr., and Eamon Duffy. CarroU may overstate his deferences with these scholars, however, with whom he shares a critical view toward models of reUgious change that emphasize the power of eUtes to shape the beUefs and practices of ordinary people. Official and popular CathoUcism were not warring sets of beUefs, but mutuaUy responsive systems that produced devotional forms that reflected creative adaptations satisfying to both clergy and people. CarroU's substantive chapters deal with an enormous and fascinating variety of popular devotions. He treats first of aU the cults dedicated to powerful images , the most popular of which present the Madonna and the ChUd Jesus. CarroU reviews the attempts of the Jansenist-inspired Synod of Pistoia in 1786 to reform these cults, particularly those which involved covering images, a device that underscored the great and potentiaUy dangerous power wielded by them. But the Synod's efforts ran aground in the face of popular resistance backed by papal support.The images themselves played a role in this dispute, when two dozen Marian statues in Rome began moving their eyes in 1796, "gloating" according to CarroU over theU victory against Pistoia (p. 24). In the foUowing chapters CarroU argues that such positive responses to popular beUefs were typical of the Counter-Reformation.The bishops gathered at the CouncU ofTrent (1545-1563) were critical of images that represented false doctrines, but did not expUcitly attack their invocation for supernatural assistance . In approving local image-cults bishops were motivated, according to CarroU , primarily by a desire to hold on to a popular constituency threatened by the Reformation, and by financial seU-interest.The official church did introduce a more Christocentric piety to Italy, however, as CarroU demonstrates in a fascinating chapter that covers the development of processions commemorating the passion which used both living actors and statues. CarroU is especiaUy persuasive in his detaUed observations and close analysis of the bloody performances on Holy Saturday that stiU draw crowds of journalists to the vUlage of NoceraTerinese in southern Italy. BOOK REVIEWS109 CarroU then reviews the development ofthe cult ofthe dead, in which he distinguishes devotion to the souls in purgatory from a devotion to the skeletons ofplague victims. CarroU renews his argument for the centraUty ofthe CounterReformation in the rise of the cult of the dead, and sees this period as crucial also for the rapid growth of cults dedicated to reUcs. As in Madonnas That Maim, CarroU sees the "chiese ricettizie," groups of priests Ln southern Italy who held church property in common, as a key institution which helped insulate local parishes and their devotions from the reforming impulses generated byTrent. In his final substantive chapter CarroU reviews the cults dedicated to "incorruptible" saintly bodies, and argues convincingly that these "provided a concrete metaphor for thinking about the organizational unity of the Church that had been lost during the Reformation" (p. 224). In his conclusion CarroU defends the concept of national character, and attempts to Link what he sees as the characteristicaUy Italian devotion to madonnine images to a national propensity to mix natural and supernatural derived from "strong unconscious oral erotic desires...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 108-109
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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