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Fathers and Godfathers: Spiritual kinship in early-modern by Dr Alfani Guido

By Dr Alfani Guido

In medieval Europe baptism didn't purely signify a solemn and public reputation of the 'natural' beginning of a kid, yet used to be considered as a moment, 'spiritual birth', inside a social workforce frequently diverse from the kid's blood family members: a religious relatives, composed of godfathers and godmothers. via examining the altering theological and social nature of non secular kinship and godparenthood among 1450 and 1650, this booklet explores how those medieval ideas have been built and utilised by means of the Catholic Church in an period of reform and problem. It demonstrates how such ties persevered to be of significant social value through the 16th and 17th centuries, yet have been usually utilized in methods now not continuously coherent with their unique non secular that means, and which may have unforeseen social consequences.

In specific, the e-book analyzes intimately the section of transition from the normal version of godparenthood which allowed for a number of godparents, to the recent couple version (one godfather and one godmother) imposed via Tridentine legislation. Drawing upon a wide database of archival info taken from parish books of baptisms and marriages, pastoral visitations, diocesan statutes, synods and provincial councils, it truly is proven how makes an attempt have been made to withstand or to compromise with the Church, therefore supplying a greater realizing of the customarily contested that means given to godparenthood through early sleek society.

Whilst the Church was once eventually winning in implementing its will, the e-book concludes that this was once to have unforeseen effects that have been to ultimately weaken the function of godparents. instead of persuading mom and dad to settle on genuine 'spiritual tutors' to behave as godparents, the alternative of godparents turned more and more prompted with social prestige, in order that godparenthood started to resemble a natural consumers procedure, anything it had by no means been before.

Through this long term exploration of Catholic non secular kinship, a lot is printed, not just approximately godparenthood, yet in regards to the wider social and non secular networks. comparability with Protestant reactions to an analogous matters offers extra perception into the significance of this topic to early sleek ecu society.

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Extra resources for Fathers and Godfathers: Spiritual kinship in early-modern Italy (Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700)

Sample text

At a time when baptism of adults was still frequent, it often happened that there was little difference in age between the godparent and his godchildren, and scandals and incestuous relations would come to light shortly after the ceremony. An interesting case is reported by the Byzantine historian Procopius. Belisarius, Justinian’s famous general, had in service a young man named Teodosius, born to a couple who were not Christians. Before embarking on a journey to Libya, Belisarius personally baptized the young man.

Consequently, narrates Procopius, Belisarius’s wife, Antonina, became fond of Teodosius, as was appropriate, since the young man had become her son on account of the baptismal ceremony. However, during their journey to Libya, her love turned into an insatiable passion and she began to meet Teodosius secretly. According to Procopius the situation degenerated even further, and, once it became known, caused an extremely grave scandal. The story shows how at the time of Justinian, relations between godparents and godchildren roused indignation and not, it would seem, because of a violation of recent imperial precepts, but on account of a feeling of decorum that was common in various Christian communities.

If we give credence to Corblet, the case of Venice is different insofar as it seems there was no limit to the proliferation of godfathers. It would be interesting, though, to know whether it was customary among the whole population, and whether or not there were godmothers. Santorso’s customs of godparenthood were very similar to those found in Ivrea and Bellano (lots of godfathers and godmothers, with no clear limit). Finally, Gambellara is a case on its own (similar to Finale Ligure): unlike Santorso or Venice, there was a fairly cogent limit to the number of spiritual kin allowed (never more than four).

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