Expanding upon recent work on the heterogeneity of Catholicism and the challenges facing Tridentine reformers, this article examines local religion in two “extreme” settings: the village republic of Gersau in Central Switzerland and the missionary territory of the Custody of the Holy Land. Following conceptual remarks, the authors sketch the distinct secular contexts as well the phased evolution of localized networks for the administration of the cure of souls, the latter starting in the eleventh and sixteenth centuries, respectively. A consistently comparative approach reveals notable similarities-in terms of expanding spiritual provision and better record keeping-alongside substantial differences-especially between the clearly demarcated territorial parishes in the Alps and a more punctual system of sacrament centers in Palestine. At Gersau, where diocesan structures were weak, the church operated under the close supervision of a commune with extensive powers stretching to the rights of advowson and benefice administration. Around Jerusalem, the Franciscans-whose custos acted as the vicar apostolic-used material incentives to win over converts from other Christian denominations. Building on recent reassessments of the post-Tridentine Church, both examples thus underline the strong position of the laity in the confessional age and the need to acknowledge local sociopolitical as well as organizational factors in the formation of early modern Catholicism.
Kumin, B., Tramontana, F. (2020). Catholicism decentralized: Local religion in the early modern periphery. CHURCH HISTORY, 89(2), 268-287 [10.1017/S0009640720001298].