Fathers and theologians of the Middle Ages which offered a sort of semantic representation and anchored Christianity, as purified by the Catholic Reformation, in the poetical and sacred world of biblical antiquity. This discourse was reinforced, moreover, during the early modern period through the revival of biblical studies prompted by Christian humanism, through the climate of intellectual competition between Catholic and Protestant exegetes, and through the influence of Jansenism accentuated by theological rigourism. It was hoped thus to respond to the primitivist discourse of the Reformation, which aimed at returning to the first Christians, by claiming a direct line of legitimacy from the religion of Israel to the Roman Church. Thus, the church became the 'temple', the choir was referred to as the 'Holy of Holies', and the container of the Eucharist became the 'tabernacle', framed by two cherubs with veiled faces, as they had flanked the Ark in the Holy of Holies. In a similar manner, the Eucharist in the monstrance came to be represented by the Burning Bush; the First Person, by the Hebrew tetragram in an equilateral triangle (as in the altarpiece at Karlskirche in Vienna - dedicated, moreover, to Saint Charles Borromeo); the Second Person by the letters IHS. The priest became known as the 'sacrificer'; the chasuble took the form of the 'sacrificer's apron'; and the priest's acolytes were designated 'Levites', sometimes referred to as 'the sacerdotal tribe'. Intellectuals pored over biblical texts and the Antiquities of the Jews of Flavius Josephus, and produced numerous recreations of temples and their contents - from Juan Bautista Villalpando and Louis Maillet, canon of Troyes, to Dom Calmet and Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach (1721). A scholarly iconography displayed Old Testament prefigurations of the Eucharist, of the sacrificial altar, and of the altar for the bread offering to the empty throne of the Divine Presence (as in the sacristy panelling of the priory of Saints-Pierre-et-Paul in Souvigny, Allier). In sum, one is led to conclude that Roman Catholicism saw the first of its 'revivals' during the early modern period - a biblical 'revival' in advance of that which occurred from the 1830s in favour of the Middle Ages.
This interpretation of the Real Presence through Old Testament prefigurations was intended to reconcile the twin demands of transcendence and reason characteristic of Catholicism during the early modern period. It tended to de-emphasize Christ's human nature, while symbols like IHS and the lamb were given special prominence; the narrative of church history, and particularly of the saints, was also neglected. It testified to a religion that tended towards abstraction in its desire to suppress superstition. It was closely contemporary to the effort (though with considerable local variation, particularly in France) to purge places of worship of all artifice pleasing to the
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