City and Church
The holiest person in the Spanish town of Avila in the mid- sixteenth century was an illiterate woman named Mari Díaz. Originally from a nearby village, Mari Díaz had moved to Avila in the 1530s not only to seek work but also to pursue a religious vision. Though she never became a nun -- presumably her parents were not rich enough to provide the customary dowry -- Mari Díaz became widely known for her unique blend of austerity, piety and practical advice. By the 1560s she was living permanently in a tiny chamber next to the main altar of the great church of San Millán. Clad in rags, subsisting on one meal a day, Mari Díaz spent hours at prayer, interrupting her devotions only to dispense her wisdom to the admirers of every social rank who thronged to visit her tiny enclosure. When she died in November 1572, the authorities ordered magnificent funeral rites which lasted for nine days.1
Just a few weeks before her death, religious passions of a very different sort had gripped an even greater European city. After ten frustrating years of religious and civil war, the king of France had ordered the assassination of Protestant leaders gathered in Paris. What may first have been envisioned as a limited strike against political enemies soon turned into a bloodbath as undisciplined soldiers and hostile neighbours massacred Protestant inhabitants of every district in Paris.2 Nor were Protestants the only victims. According to one contemporary, amidst all the bloodshed and confusion some Catholic priests were murdered as well -- by cynical co-religionists eager to create vacancies in a few well-paid church positions.3____________________
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Early Modern City, 1450-1750. Contributors: Christopher R. Friedrichs - Author. Publisher: Longman. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 61.