Right Thinking and Sacred Oratory in Counter-Reformation Rome
At the end of the sixteenth century, when painters, writers, and scientists from all over Europe flocked to Rome for creative inspiration, the city was also becoming the center of a vibrant and assertive Roman Catholic culture. Closely identified with Rome, the Counter-Reformation church sought to strengthen itself by building on Rome's symbolic value and broadcasting its cultural message loudly and skillfully to the European world. In a book that captures the texture and flavor of this rhetorical strategy, Frederick McGinness explores the new emphasis placed on preaching by Roman church leaders. Looking at the development of a sacred oratory designed to move the heart, he traces the formation of a long-lasting Catholic worldview and reveals the ingenuity of the Counter-Reformation in the transformation of Renaissance humanism.
McGinness not only describes the theory of sermon-writing, but also reconstructs the circumstances, social and physical, in which sermons were delivered. The author considers how sermons blended spirituality with pious legends--for example, stories of the early martyrs--and evocative metaphors to fashion a respublica christiana of loyal Catholics. Preachers projected a "right" view of history, social relationships, and ecclesiastical organization, while depicting a spiritual topography upon which Catholics could chart a path to salvation. At the center of this topography was Rome, a vast stage set for religious pageantry, which McGinness brings to life as he follows the homiletic representations of the city from a bastion of Christian militancy to a haven of harmony, light, and tranquility.
Originally published in 1995.
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