“A Single Body”: Eucharistic Piety and Confraternities of the Body of Christ in Sixteenth-Century Italy. Texts, Images, and Devotion

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Abstract

Already in the late fifteenth century Eucharistic piety began to spread in Italian devotional circles, bringing about a flowering of new models of confraternal solidarity and an integration of previously existing models. It was not just a simple glorification of the presence of Christ in the material sign of the Eucharistic sacrament. It sought, instead, to point out, clearly and absorbing way in which the Eucharist was an instrument of the entire reality of salvation: the sacrament as a “memorial” to physically ritualize the reality of the human experience and, first and foremost, the pains suffered by the body of Christ in bringing about mankind’s salvation. This type of sensibility spread through the word, through written texts, images, rituals, music. This article examines some of its most significant results and looks ahead to the decades of the mid-sixteenth century when confraternities of the Body of Christ begin to meet with great success. They were destined to become the most popular and most widely diffused in early modern Italy. The theological conflicts and the changes in mentality brought about by the Protestant split brought new elements into the picture and led to an ever-growing favouring of the objective sign of the Eucharistic sacrament, much to the detriment of its Christological content. The new category of “confraternities of the Most Holy Sacrament,” which becomes standard only after the Council of Trent, is a reflection of this.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteA Companion to Medieval and Early Modern Confraternities
EditorK Eisenbichler
Pagine109-132
Numero di pagine24
Volume83
DOI
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2019

Serie di pubblicazioni

NomeBRILL'S COMPANIONS TO THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION

Keywords

  • 15th-16th centuries
  • Eucharistic piety
  • Italy
  • confraternities of the Body of Christ

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