Dizionario degli Istuti di Perfezione. Edited by Guerrino Pelliccia and Giancarlo Rocca. Vol. IX: "Spiritualita-Vezelay." (Rome: Edizioni Paoline. 1997. Pp. xxvi, 1,960;17 colored plates.)
These truly monumental volumes, undertaken in the wake of Vatican Council II in 1968, ambition covering all monasticism, religious Orders, and analogous movements, not excluding non-Catholic and Asian analogues, from the Early Church to the present day, from a largely historical perspective, including themes, mentalities, theologies, and movements, in comprehensive scope. Its riches are so varied and sometimes unexpected under their Italian indicators that we Anglophones must hope for ample multilingual indexes at the end.
Major themes can amount to small books, as with Historiography of religious life (77 columns), the role of Study including libraries (85 columns), Third Orders both regular and secular (81 columns), or Virginity (56 columns). Generous space is also accorded Theater, monastic Taxes, Trent on religious life, Theology, and concepts such as Spouse of Christ, State of Perfection, Tonsure, and the process and history of Leaving (Uscita). Some entries are particularly contemporary: the problem of an aging population in Orders (Terza Eta), the pros and cons of the Third Way as sexual expression (Terza Via), and the use of modern communications (Strumenti). Other entries are unexpected: Vegetarianism, Utopia, Humanism (monastic, then Renaissance), siting of religious houses (Ubicazione, some 30 columns), and their relation to cities (Urbanistica). A sprinking of exotic items catches the eye: Sufism, Stoicism, Taoism, Tantrism,Vestals, and Waldensians.
An unending parade of monks and Orders down the centuries forms the backbone of this …