Counter-Reformation views of the sacred sphere. In this way everyday dialectics brought a clarification of attitudes towards popular religion: Protestants were against any form of popular religion, whereas Catholics claimed some of these forms were integral to their 'Catholic', that is, universal religion, but rejected other forms as contrary to the standards of the Counter-Reformation church. In territories with mixed confessions, individuals could take advantage of the various attitudes of the different churches towards popular practices and beliefs, and thus seek their own maximum benefit. The documents show that they did so. Catholic shrines, even after their destruction, continued to attract both Catholic and Protestant faithful, who went there to perform forbidden healing rituals against plague, cattle disease, or natural disasters.
In Holland, for instance, the miraculous Marian well at the village of Heiloo near Alkmaar, a former place of pilgrimage where Our Lady's chapel had been destroyed after the Reformation, attracted both Catholic and Protestant breeders during the bovine plague of the winter of 1713-14. People came in such numbers to draw water into barrels and bottles - even carrying them away with four-horse carts - that locals opened inns on the spot. The civil authorities did not dare interfere, fearing it would cause a riot.26 Interestingly, the site provided another message for the better educated laity, both Catholic and non-Catholic. Since the well had miraculously started to flow again on the night of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception (8 December), the Franciscan friars used it to demonstrate the truth of this dogma both to Protestants and to unconvinced Catholics. This was typical of post-Reformation cults: on one level, they served the everyday needs of the ordinary faithful, but on another level they contained an apologetic message for the non-believers. In the postReformation world of western Christianity, virtually all forms of religious discourse, including popular religion, had opponents in mind and tried to define a message that might win those opponents over.
Yet this example is also indicative of the distance which existed in early modern society between dogma and the everyday religious experience of the masses. In that fundamentally religious society where everybody had need for a proper confessional identity, people invariably felt a certain measure of opposition towards other churches or religious groups. Yet whenever possible, they sought out religious practices that fitted best with their everyday needs and they lived rather peacefully together so long as the higher civil or ecclesiastical authorities did not interfere. This basic solidarity of all towards the common needs of the community may be called the 'ecumenicity of everyday life'. Indeed, such an inter-confessional modus vivendi always started from the unspoken assumption that, on the basis of a shared general Christian
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