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Tyrolean stigmata in England: the cross-cultural voyage of the Catholic supernatural, 1841–1848

  • Kristof Smeyers (a1) and Leonardo Rossi (a1)

Abstract

This article considers the transcultural dynamic between English Catholicism and mainland Europe in the early 1840s through the lens of the reception of two famous Tyrolean women bearing the stigmata. After the publication of the account of their supernatural qualities by John Talbot, sixteenth Earl of Shrewsbury, Waterford, and Wexford they became the controversial subject of the heated debates on the nature of English and universal Catholicism, and by extension on the nature of religiosity at large. This article argues that adopting a transnational approach to the study of supernatural phenomena within Catholicism in the 1830s and 1840s allows us to look beyond the history of institutions and key figures in the polemic, and to shed light on more nuanced religious and devotional interactions between the British Isles and the Continent. As such this article also argues for the inclusion of supernatural phenomena in the transnational history of English Catholicism.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Footnotes

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The authors would like to thank Tine Van Osselaer and the organisers and attendees of the Catholic Record Society Annual Conference in 2017 for their refreshing questions and feedback. This work was supported by a BOF DOCPRO4 grant of the University of Antwerp and the European Research Council (Starting Grant) under Grant 637908.

Footnotes

References

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1 Talbot, John, Earl of Shrewsbury, Letter from the Earl of Shrewsbury to Ambrose Lisle Phillipps, Esq. descriptive of the Estatica of Caldaro and the Addolorata of Capriana (London: Charles Dolman, 1841), 27 .

2 Mitchell, Rosemary, ‘Charles Dolman, 1807-1863, Roman Catholic publisher’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Online edn, [https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/7785. Accessed 2 May 2019].

3 See, for example, Heimann, Mary, Catholic devotion in Victorian England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995); Wolffe, John R., The Protestant crusade in Great Britain, 1829-1860 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). The supernatural has received considerable attention for Reformation and Enlightenment England. See, for example, Walsham, Alexandra, ‘The Reformation and the “disenchantment of the world” reassessed’, The Historical Journal 51 (2008): 497528 ; Young, Francis, English Catholics and the supernatural, 1553-1829 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013); Marshall, Peter, Invisible worlds: death, religion and the supernatural in England, 1500-1700 (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2017).

4 Both narratives have been nuanced considerably in the last two decades by widening the lens from theological and intellectual religious history to day-to-day religious practices and beliefs. See, for example, Heimann, , Catholic devotion ; Atkins, Gerard, Making and remaking saints in nineteenth-century Britain (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016). Matsumoto-Best, Saho, Britain and the Papacy in the age of enlightenment, 1846-1851 (London: Boydell & Brewer, 2003).

5 See, for instance, for the eighteenth century, Conway, Stephen, ‘Christians, Catholics, Protestants: the religious links of Britain and Ireland with Continental Europe, c.1689-1800’, The English Historical Review 124 (2009): 833–62. For the nineteenth century, see, Wheeler, Michael, The old enemies: Catholic and Protestant in nineteenth-century English culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). For the decades following the chronological scope of this article, taking the reinstatement in 1850 of Catholic hierarchy in England as issued by Pope Pius IX’s bull Universalis Ecclesiae as a starting point, some important work has been done to bring attention to the ‘Roman turn’ to ritual, apostolic tradition, and other aspects of ‘genuine’ Roman Catholic religiosity.

6 Connolly, John R., John Henry Newman: a view for Catholic faith in the new millennium (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), 27 . The rumours of Newman’s alleged supernatural experience were outed by William George Ward and Ambrose Phillipps. Phillipps himself had allegedly experienced a vision in 1823, preceding his conversion to Catholicism. ‘Ambrose Lisle Mark Philips Delisle, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Online edn, [http://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=3739. Accessed 22 November 2018].

7 Trevor, Meriol, Newman: the pillar of the cloud (London: MacMillan, 1962), 262 .

8 Cited in Gwynn, Denis, Lord Shrewsbury, Pugin and the Catholic Revival (London: Hollis & Carter, 1946), xviii.

9 In the second edition of his published letter to Phillipps, Shrewsbury included an account of his visit to Domenica Barbagli, the ‘Estatica of Monte Savigno’ in May 1842.

10 Marinolli, Mario, Maria Domenica Lazzeri. “L’Addolorata di Capriana” (Trent: Grafiche Artigianelli, 1998), 183–91 at 183. Marinolli died in 1945 without having finished his apologetic book in honor of the Tyrolean stigmatic. During the diocesan beatification campaign of the 1990s, the Amici della Meneghina committee decided to finish the theologian’s book and publish it posthumously in 1998.

11 Priesching, Nicole, Maria Von Mörl (1812–1868). Leben und Bedeutung einer “stigmatisierten Jungfrau” aus Tirol im Kontext ultramontaner Frömmigkeit (Brixen: Verlag A. Weger, 2004), 32-3.

12 Romeo, Carlo, I sacri fuochi del Sacro Cuore: la devozione al Sacro Cuore di Gesù nella storia del Tirolo tra politica e religione (Bolzano: Praxis 3, 1996).

13 Miracles, mystical, and paranormal phenomena and their connection with the war and suffering are reported in many other Italian regions in the same period. One of the most interesting locations was central Italy. See Cattaneo, Massimo, Gli occhi di Maria sulla Rivoluzione. ‘Miracoli’ a Roma e nello Stato della Chiesa (1796-1797) (Rome: Istituto nazionale di studi romani, 1995), 67102 .

14 Priesching, Nicole, ‘Katholische Führungspersönlichkeiten zu Besuch bei der Ekstatikerin Maria von Mörl’, in Freytag, Nils andSawicki, Diethard, eds. Wunderwelten. Religiöse Ekstase und Magie in der Moderne (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2006), 115–41 at 118-20.

15 Rubatscher, Veronika, Die Schmerzensreiche von Capriana (Leipzig: Rauch, 1936), 62 .

16 The hymn was written by Julius Mosen in 1831, and was later performed by Leopold Knebelsberger in 1844. Since 1948 it has been the official anthem of the Tyrol and with the law 3/2005 of 14 January 2005 it was reconfirmed as such. ‘Landesrecht Konsolidiert Tyrol’ [http://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Dokument.wxe?Abfrage=Landesnormen&Dokumentnummer=LTI40015128. Accessed 12 December 2018]. Gadaleta, Ludovico Maria, ‘Rosmini e l’Addolorata di Capriana’, Rivista Rosminiana di filosofia e di cultura 108 (2014): 79149 at 100–11.

17 Bouflet, Joachim, Les Stigmatisés (Paris: Cerf, 1996), 89 .

18 Maria von Mörl was born in Kaltern/Caldaro (today in the Italian province of Bolzano) on 16 October 1812 from an impoverished noble family. Priesching, Nicole, Unter der Geissel gottes: das Leiden der stigmatisierten Maria Von Mörl (1812-1868) Im Urteil ihres Biechtvaters (Brixen: Verlag A. Weger, 2007).

19 Maria Domenica Lazzeri was born in Capriana (literally the ‘goats’ village’, in the province of Trent) on 16 March 1815. See Sommavilla, Simone, Notizie storiche intorno a Maria Domenica Lazzeri o l’Addolorata di Capriana in Fiemme (Trent: Tip. Artigianelli, 1948); Marinolli, Maria Domenica Lazzeri.

20 Joseph, Johann Görres, Von, The stigmata: a history of various cases (London: Thomas Richardson and son, 1883), 127 .

21 Marinolli, , Maria Domenica Lazzeri, 28 .

22 Their profile of holiness, as outlined by Otto Weiss for modern mystic women, showed many points in common with that of medieval ‘living saints’, especially related to charisms: Otto Weiss, ‘Stigmata’, in Wolf, Hubert, ed. Wahre und falsche Heiligkeit. Mystik, Macht und Geschlechterrollen im Katholizismus des 19. Jahrhunderts (Oldenburg: Oldenbourg Verlag, 2013), 111–25 at 118; Walker Bynum, Caroline, Holy feast and holy fast. The religious significance of food to medieval women (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987).

23 Maria Gadaleta, Ludovico, ‘Rosmini e una mistica del suo tempo: Maria von Mörl’, Rivista Rosminiana di filosofia e di cultura 106 (2012): 167211 at 174-6.

24 Dei Cloche, Leonardo, ‘Annotazioni intorno la lunga, penosa ed ammiranda infermità della vivente Maria Domenica Lazzari’, Annali Universali di Medicina 84 (1837): 241–65.

25 Görres, , The stigmata, 171–2.

26 Kane, Paula, ‘“She Offered Herself Up”: The Victim Soul and Victim Spirituality in Catholicism’, Church History 71 (2002): 80119 .

27 Ibid .; Van Osselaer, Tine, ‘Stigmatic women in modern Europe. An exploratory note on gender, corporeality and Catholic culture’, in Mazoyer, M. and Mirault, P., eds. Évolutions et transformations du mariage dans le christianisme (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2017), 269–89.

28 Ricciardi, Antonio, ‘Relazione storica di Maria Mörl di Caldaro’, in Anomymous, Le tre mirabili vergini viventi nel Tirolo. Maria Mörl, Maria Domenica Lazzeri, Crescienza Nieklutsch (Milan: Santo Bravetta, 1840), 5th edition, 751 at 19.

29 The relationship between Von Mörl and her father confessor can be reconstructed from the pages of Soyer’s diary published in: Priesching, Unter den Geisel gottes, 128–93.

30 Michelangelo Santuari reported to the higher religious authorities in a letter of 19 February 1835. See Vesley Leonardi, Ludmila, La santità nel Tirolo. Domenica Lazzeri da Capriana (Rovereto: Longo Editore, 1991), 7781 .

31 Weber, Max, Economy and society: an outline of interpretive sociology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), 539–42.

32 Görres, , The stigmata, 181–3.

33 Ibid., 183.

34 For the correspondence between Santuari and the Tridentine Curia, see Brunelli, Giovanni, Un fiore purpureo tra i monti (Trent: Scuole Grafiche Artigianelli, 1968), 321–6; Leonardi, Vesely, La santità nel Tirolo, 94–6 and 106-8.

35 Priesching, Unter den Geisel gottes, 42, see n. 89.

36 In the first part of the nineteenth century the modern Italian, Austrian and German nation-states did not exist. Here we mean the socio-cultural entity rather than the official political one.

37 Cloche, Dei, ‘Annotazioni’, 241–65.

38 Görres, The stigmata, 198.

39 Anonymous, , Memorie intorno a tre mirabili vergini viventi nel Tirolo (Lugano: Veladini e Comp., 1836).

40 Anonymous, , Le tre mirabili vergini viventi nel Tirolo (Milan: Tip. Santo Bravetta, 1837), 2nd edition.

41 Ibid., 7–52.

42 Shrewsbury, Letter, 3.

43 ‘Lord Shrewsbury’s miraculous virgins detected’, Morning Herald, 15 November 1842.

44 Gadaleta, ‘Rosmini e l’Addolorata di Capriana’, 101, 124-7; Ludmila, Vesely Leonardi, Maria Domenica Lazzeri e i visitatori inglesi. La documentazione sulla stampa degli anni 1841-42-43 in Inghilterra e Australia (Rovereto: Edizioni Osiride, 2007).

45 On the social and political ‘usefulness’ of suffering mystics, see Luca Sandoni, ‘Political Mobilizations of Ecstatic Experiences in Late Nineteenth-Century Catholic France: the case of Doctor Antoine Imbert-Gourbeyre and his “Stigmatisées” (1868-73)’, Disputatio philosophica. International Journal on Philosophy and Religion 16 (2015): 19-42 at 19. Kleinberg, Aviad, Prophets in their own country. Living saints and the making of sainthood in the later Middle Ages (Chicago: University Press of Chicago, 1992), 14 .

46 On the connection between fame, celebrity, and religion: Aberbach, David, Charisma in Politics, Religion and the Media. Private Trauma, Public Ideals (Houndmills-Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1996 ); Berenson, Edward andGioli, Eva, Constructing Charisma. Celebrity, Fame, and Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010).

47 Boré, Léon, Les Stigmatisées du Tyrol et la patiente de Kaldern et la patiente de Capriana, relations traduites de l’italien, de l’allemand et de l’anglais (Brussels: Imprimerie Verteneuil, 1843 ), 188 for ‘country of goats’. ‘Relazione di un sacerdote inglese, ottobre 1842’, in Brunelli, Giovanni, Un fiore purpureo tra i monti (Trent: Scuole Grafiche Artigianelli, 1968), 342-3 at 342.

48 Shrewsbury, Letter, 3.

50 This explosion of tourism led to a wave of criticism in which the act of travelling to an over-crowded Italy was at times conflated with what was considered in English public opinion to be an untoward sympathy toward Italian popery. See for example the commotion surrounding the publication of Lady Morgan’s Italy (London: Henry Colburn, 1821), Morgan, Lady, Letter to the reviewers of ‘Italy’, including an answer to a pamphlet entitled ‘Observations upon the calumnies and misrepresentations in Lady Morgan’s ‘Italy’ (Paris: A. and W. Galignani, 1821 ).

51 Balzaretti, Ross, ‘British women travellers and Italian marriages, 1789-1844’, inBabini, Valeria,Beccalossi, Chiara andRiall, Lucy, eds. Italian sexualities uncovered, 1789-1914 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 251–71.

52 Conway, ‘Christians, Catholics, Protestants’, 860.

53 Champ, Judith, The English pilgrimage to Rome. A Dwelling for the Soul (Leominster: Gracewing, 2000).

54 Leonardi, Vesely, Maria Domenica Lazzeri e i visitatori inglesi, 1720 .

55 Gadaleta, , Rosmini e una mistica del suo tempo: Maria von Mörl, 179–85 and Gadaleta, , Rosmini e l’Addolorata di Capriana, 119–20.

56 Gadaleta, , Rosmini e una mistica del suo tempo, 192 ; Rosmini, Antonio, Epistolario Completo 5 vols (Casale Monferrato: G. Pane, 1890), 5: letter 2267 ‘From Antonio Rosmini to the Baroness Mary Arundell’, 7 June 1834; Il cattolico. Giornale religioso-letterario (Lugano: Francesco Veladini e Comp., 1842), 19: 259.

57 Leonardi, Vesely, Maria Domenica Lazzeri e i visitatori inglesi, 1920 .

58 The interactions of the Rosminian priests with ‘ordinary’ English Catholics fall outside the scope of this article, though it can be assumed that during their missionary duties they talked about their personal experiences with Von Mörl and Lazzeri.

59 Ibid., 22.

60 Galadeta, , Rosmini e l’Addolorata di Capriana, 121 .

61 ‘The Earl of Shrewsbury’s “holy virgins” detected’, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 April 1843.

62 Perhaps most telling in this respect was the missionary career of Fr Dominic Barberi, who preached in the Midlands in the early 1840s. Barberi went from being ridiculed for his preaching about Christ on the Cross to revered as a ‘saint possessed of miraculous powers’: Heimann, Catholic devotion, 160-1. Coincidentally, Barberi baptised Teresa Helena Higginson (1844-1905), who later became a stigmatic herself.

63 ‘Lord Shrewsbury’s miraculous virgins detected’, Morning Herald, 15 November 1842.

64 Letter from De Giovannelli to Pagani, Tablet, 14 January 1843; Gadaleta, Rosmini e l’Addolorata di Capriana, 120.

65 The life and writings of Görres’, Dublin review, 6 (1889), 38 .

66 For a wide cultural analysis of the ‘sense of belonging to a wider European Christian community’ among the English and Irish in the period preceding the one under examination here, see Conway, ‘Christians, Catholics, Protestants’, 833-62. For ‘the heart of the Papal dominions’: South Eastern Gazette, 30 November 1841, 2.

67 Shrewsbury, Letter, 9.

68 For an extensive, though not exhaustive list of visitors, see Priesching, , Maria von Mörl, especially 348–51.

69 Shrewsbury, , Letter, 112–20. Edward Binns (1804-1851) was a Jamaican-Scottish physician and author of The Anatomy of Sleep, or, the art of procuring sound and refreshing slumber at will (London: John Churchill, 1842).

70 Stolberg’s account of his visit to Emmerick was also read in England, where it was published in episodes in several newspapers, similar to how most people read Shrewsbury’s letter.

71 Léon Boré, Les stigmatisées du Tyrol (Paris, 1840); A.N. Veyland, Les plaies sanglantes du Christ reproduites dans trois vièrges chrétiennes vivant actuellement dans le Tyrol (Metz, 1844).

72 Shrewsbury, , Letter, 15–6; Priesching, , Maria von Mörl, 348 .

73 Phillips de Lisle continued to call for ecclesiastical union until his death. See, for example, his letter in Pilot, 7 July 1876.

74 Shrewsbury, Letter, 23.

75 Ibid., 27.

76 Ibid., 63.

77 Anon, ., ‘The Miracle at Rimini’, Rambler, 6 (1850), 177 .

78 Young, Francis, English Catholics and the supernatural, 1553-1829 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), 75–7.

79 On longer recusant traditions of wariness toward the miraculous and supernatural in post-Reformation England, see, among others, Walsham, ‘The Reformation’.

80 As did, in fact, other English visitors. See William Allies, Thomas, Journal in France in 1845 and 1848, with letters from Italy in 1847 (London, 1848).

81 Wolffe, , The Protestant crusade, 2 .

82 Balzaretti, , ‘British woman travellers’, 260.

83 Christian Ladies’ Magazine, 13 November 1841.

84 Manchester Courier and Lancaster General Advertiser, 20 November 1841, 5.

85 Spectator, 12 November 1841.

86 Caciola, Nancy, ‘Through a Glass, Darkly: Recent Work on Sanctity and Society. A Review Article’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 38 (1996): 301-9 at 303.

87 Underwood, Lucy, ‘English Catholic martyrs’, inAtkins, Gareth ed., Making and remaking saints in nineteenth-century Britain (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017), 144–60 at 148.

88 Among others: Brown, Peter, ‘Society and the Supernatural: A Medieval Change’, Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: 1982); Bynum, Holy feast and holy fast; Patrick Geary, ‘Saints, Scholars, and Society: The Elusive Goal’, Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages (Ithaca: 1994), 9-29. For an additional bibliography: Caciola, ‘Through a Glass, Darkly’, 301-3. The citation is Caciola’s: Ibid., 302. For ‘certain quality of an individual’: Weber, Economy and society, 241.

89 See, for instance, Brunelli, Un fiore purpureo; Sommavilla, Notizie storiche.

90 Gadaleta, Rosmini e una mistica del suo tempo, 177 for Lazzeri’s refusal to accept visitors. Paula Kane, ‘Stigmatic cults and pilgrimage. The convergence of private and public faith’, Van Osselaer, Tine andPasture, Patrick, eds. Christian Homes. Religion, Family and Domesticity in the 19th and 20th centuries, (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2014), 104–25.

91 Maria Gadaleta, Ludovico andVesely Leonardi, Ludmila, eds. Il “Diarium Missarum” di don Antonio Eccel con annotazioni riguardanti Maria Domenica Lazzeri “l’Addolorata di Capriana” (1815-1848) (Rovereto: New-Book Edizioni, 2015), 55 .

92 Shrewsbury, , Letter, 31 .

93 Gadaleta and Vesely Leonardi, Il “Diarium Missarum”, 71.

94 Caffiero, Marina, ‘From the Late Baroque mystical explosion to the Social Apostolate, 1650-1850’, inScaraffia, andZarri, Gabriella, eds. Women and Faith. Catholic religious life in Italy from late antiquity to the present (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 176218 at 185. The virgin saint reappears in different forms throughout history. For an analysis of thirteenth-century beguine sanctity, for example: Walter Simons, Cities of Ladies. Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200-1565 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001). For the tertiary followers of the stigmatized St Catherine of Siena in the fifteenth century: Zarri, Gabriella, Le sante vive. Profezie di corte e devozione femminile tra ‘400 e ‘500 (Turin: Rosenberg & Sellier, 1990); Zarri, , ‘From prophecy to discipline 1450-1650’, in Scaraffia, Zarri, Women and faith, 83-112.

95 About the link between sickness and childlike purity: Orsi, Robert, ‘Mildred, is it fun to be a cripple? The Culture of Suffering in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Catholicism’, South Atlantic Quarterly 93 (1994): 547-90 at 552.

96 Kane, Paula, “She offered herself up”: the victim soul and victim spirituality in Catholicism’, Church History 71 (2002): 80-119 at 82.

97 For the extent to which English ultramontanes embraced the supernatural in the years before Emancipation: Young, English Catholics and the supernatural, 75-7.

98 For the ‘politicisation of religion’ in Italy: Menozzi, Daniele, Sacro Cuore. Un culto tra devozione interiore e restaurazione cristiana della società (Rome: Viella, 2001); Menozzi, ., ‘Contro la secolarizzazione. La promozione dei culti tra Pio X e Leone XIII’, in Menozzi, D., ed. Rivista di Storia del Cristianesimo (Brescia: Queriniana, 2005); Fattorini, Emma, ed. Santi, culti, simboli nell’età della secolarizzazione (1815-1915) (Turin: Rosenberg & Sellier, 1997).

99 Caffiero, ‘From the late baroque mystical explosion’, 199-202; Francesco de Palma, ‘Il modello laicale di Anna Maria Taigi’, in Fattorini, ed. Santi, culti, simboli, 529-46 at 531-5.

100 Maria, Paiano, ‘Religione e politica nel Risorgimento. La devozione al tempo di Pio IX’, Contemporanea 19 (2016): 506 -35 and Paiano, , ‘Devozione e politica: dai santuari alle Madonne pellegrine’, inMenozzi, D.,Caliò, T., andMenozzi, A., eds. L’Italia e i santi. Agiografia riti e devozione nella costruzione dell’identità nazionale (Rome: Treccani, 2017), 295-321.

101 Sandoni, ‘Political mobilizations’, 19-22. On the methodological implications of studying religious supernaturalism: Heimann, Mary, ‘Mysticism in Bootle: Victorian supernaturalism as an historical problem’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 64 (2013): 335–56.

102 Shrewsbury, Letter, 42.

103 Ibid., 40.

104 Ibid., 41.

105 Essex Standard, 17 June 1842, 2.

106 Shrewsbury, Letter, 38.

107 Ibid., 42.

108 Allies, Journal in France, 221–2.

* The authors would like to thank Tine Van Osselaer and the organisers and attendees of the Catholic Record Society Annual Conference in 2017 for their refreshing questions and feedback. This work was supported by a BOF DOCPRO4 grant of the University of Antwerp and the European Research Council (Starting Grant) under Grant 637908.

Keywords

Tyrolean stigmata in England: the cross-cultural voyage of the Catholic supernatural, 1841–1848

  • Kristof Smeyers (a1) and Leonardo Rossi (a1)

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