Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Seventeenth-Century Cultural Discourse: France and the Preaching of Bishop Camus

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Seventeenth-Century Cultural Discourse: France and the Preaching of Bishop Camus

Article excerpt

Seventeenth-Century Cultural Discourse: France and the Preaching of Bishop Camus By Thomas Worcester. [Religion and Society, 38.] (Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 1997. Pp. ix, 30.)

Jean-Pierre Camus became bishop of Belley, a remote diocese on the border between France and Savoy, in 16()9 and retained that office until he resigned it in 1629. As bishop he took seriously the Tridentine requirement that among the most important responsibilities of that office was the preaching of the gospel. Benveen 1615 and 1623 approximately 400 of Camus' sermons were published in seventeen voumes. Thomas Worcester argues that these sermons provide us with a greater understanding of French culture in the seventeenth century.

Conversion was a dominant theme in the sermons of the Bishop of Belley as it was in the religious culture of the seventeenth century as a whole. He urged his audiences to engage in confession and communion as often as possible in order to obtain from God a "perfect contrition," the end result of conversion. The issue of `frequent communion` and 'contrition; both much in evidence in the sermons,were of concern to the French Catholic community during the period.

Allusions to food are much in evidence in these sermons. Bishop Camus` use of alimentary images, according to Professor Worcester, supports Caroline Bynum's contention that such images were of particular significance to women during the medieval and early modern periods. Worcester devotes several chapters to gender issues. Although Camus was not entirely free from the misogynist perception that women are weak. he frequently provided examples of female saints as models of true piety and also praised 'matern:rl` qualities in male saints. …

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