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"The Care of Souls Is a Very Grave Burden for [the Pastor]": Professionalization of Clergy in Early Modern Florence, Lucca, and Arezzo

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image of Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis / Dutch Review of Church History
For more content, see Church History and Religious Culture.

Councils and bishops in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Tuscan dioceses emphasized vocation and the cura animarurn in their efforts to reform the parish clergy after the Council of Trent. The desired criteria for pastoral behavior were relatively simple, yet in many instances conformity was elusive. While synods and visitations clearly articulate a vision of professionalism, and even state penalties for failures to achieve that vision, most parishes display instead a continuation of prior practices in several important areas, including very low levels of conformity with Tridentine and post-Tridentine reglations concerning education of priests and availability of up-to-date service books. Since the penalties were relatively small, and often did not produce any change, historians may conclude that seventeenth-century priests were not able to achieve the level of professionalization desired of them.


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