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IMS 2006 #6: The Modern Devout and 'Private' Religion

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The influential and innovative religious movement known as the Devotio Moderna or "Modern Devotion" first emerged in the Netherlands during the second half of the fourteenth century. It revitalized religious life in much of Western Europe and gave rise to the great spiritual classic, The Imitation of Christ. The movement has been variously interpreted: as the last stand of medieval asceticism, as a pointer toward the "self-fashioning" of the Renaissance, and as anticipating the Protestant Reformation. Professor Van Engen\'s lecture locates the movement and its purposes firmly within the world of the 1370s, a time of cultural and religious effervescence nearly everywhere in the West, from the Lollards in England to St. Catherine of Siena in Italy. Assessing the Devotio Moderna through historical categories appropriate to the movement\'s own time and experience, he explores the meaning of "private religion" in the late Middle Ages and examines the resistance that this new concept encountered on all sides, from lay people as well as from church and civic authorities. The lecture highlights the ferment that resulted when the ideals implicit in the Devotio Moderna confronted the realities of late medieval society.

The content of the lecture is the intellectual property of the contributor.

Category: Digital Commons


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