Catholic Devotion in Victorian England

Catholic Devotion in Victorian England

Catholic Devotion in Victorian England

Catholic Devotion in Victorian England


This is a scholarly reassessment of English Roman Catholic piety at grass-roots level in Victorian England. Heimann's study offers a controversial analysis of the influence of long-established recusant practices and attitudes in the new context of the re-establishment of Roman Catholicism in England from the mid-nineteenth century.


The aim of this book is to incorporate devotion, that voluntary and explicitly religious aspect of the Faith, into a social and intellectual understanding of Catholicism in England in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth. Although not of intrinsic devotional significance, the year 1850, which saw the formal reestablishment of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, has been taken as a convenient starting-point for this study and should enable it to complement several existing works which trace the history of the Catholic community up to that point. in many ways devotional mores which were established in the second half of the nineteenth century continued well beyond the outbreak of the First World War, arguably until the Second Vatican Council. Neither the terminus ad quem nor the terminus a quo will, therefore, be adhered to rigidly in the text.

This study has aimed to concentrate on the national scope of English Catholic developments from about 1850 to 1914. Inevitably, such an ambition has meant that the number of local sources used has had to be restricted for the sake of preserving the broad picture. However, through a deliberate concentration on sources which focus on the national dimension, this work may offer a useful introduction to those who, it is hoped, will be stimulated to pursue English Catholic devotional developments further at the local level.

Restrictions of space have meant that several related areas, including those of ecclesiastical architecture, hymnody, and the internal spirituality of religious orders, could not be accommodated in this work. Nor has it been possible to attempt a history of devotion in the whole of the British Isles in the period. Such subjects will nevertheless be alluded to from time to time.

I would like to thank the Principal and Fellows of Newnham College, Cambridge, for awarding me the Research Fellowship which enabled me to develop my doctoral thesis into this book. I am equally grateful to the staff and students of the college who helped to make Newnham such a pleasant place to spend three years.

Jane Garnett supervised the original version of this work with meticulous care and consistent encouragement. John Bossy was characteristically . . .

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