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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