long assumed by historians to have been 'Roman' often turn out, upon closer inspection, not only not to have been Italian, Italianate, promoted from the Vatican or in any other meaningful sense 'Roman' or 'Ultramontane', but rather - as in the English case - to have been precisely those devotions which had long been prized by the national community.
The devotional evidence suggests that, while Catholic communities everywhere did indeed become more outwardly fervent, demonstrative and showy over the course of the nineteenth century, they did not do so because ordered to do so by the Vatican. Rather than conform blindly to a Roman pattern, nineteenth-century Catholics - just like other sorts of Christians - were strongly affected by what might be thought of as a newly 'evangelical' or 'missionary' tone, a broad shift in taste and mood which affected Catholics and Protestants alike, and which led almost every Christian denomination earnestly to launch its own, distinctive 'revival' while simultaneously redoubling efforts to proselytise among the lapsed or indifferent within its own ranks. While the Catholic Revival made Catholics superficially seem more distinctive and denominationally exclusive than they had during the eighteenth century, it also underlined the degree to which Catholic communities, just like Protestant ones, were becoming more strident, flamboyant and demotic at a time of general interdenominational competition among Christians.
While late nineteenth-century Catholics seemed to be becoming more exclusively Catholic in their social as well as their devotional behaviour, this did not mean that they had lost either their national distinctiveness or their liberty. Although Protestants, liberals, anticlericals and other enemies of the Catholic Church, alarmed by the sight of what seemed to be a newly resurgent and confident Roman Church, leaped easily to the conclusion that every new devotion must have been commanded by the pope, the universal Catholic Church, far from becoming 'more Roman than Rome', was actually becoming more accepting of the low tastes of its poorest and most marginalised members from around the world, making it far more eclectic in its devotional, as well as its aesthetic, tastes.
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