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Confessors As Hagiographers In Early Modern Catholic Culture

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates the manifold interactions between confessors and their penitents. In early modern Catholic Europe and its colonies, priests frequently maintained close relationships with penitents, especially female penitents, whom they regarded as spiritually gifted. Many confessors felt further compelled to record the lives of these exemplary penitents and to publish or circulate them after the women had died. What inspired priests to become hagiographers? And, once they had made this literary, as well as pastoral decision, how did they go about the process of documenting the lives of their saintly penitents? In examining the extensive hagiographical literature of the early modern period, one can often catch a glimpse of the hagiographer at work, and gauge something of his objectives, his techniques, and his sense of vocation as an author.

Keywords: catholic culture; confessors; hagiographers; Penance; Peter Burke



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