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At Heresy’s Door: Borromeo, Penance, And Confessional Boundaries In Early Modern Europe

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Chapter Summary

Among several forms of penitential practice that vied for prominence in early modern Catholicism, one rested on the notion that sacramental confession should be instrumental in maintaining social order. It was particularly the powerful archbishop of Milan, Carlo Borromeo, who promoted this notion as part of his diocesan reforms. Borromeo proposed a form of social discipline that combined a deep penitential ethos with institutional enforcement. This chapter follows this history from 16th-century Milan to Flanders, through 17th-century France, into 18th-century Italy, and on to Austria, Spain, and beyond. Nevertheless, Borromeo's work on penance represents arguably "the most important contribution to the practice of the subject made during the Counter-Reformation".

Keywords: Avvertenze; Carlo Borromeo; Penance

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