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Right Thinking and Sacred Oratory in Counter-Reformation Rome
Frederick J. McGinness

Winner of the 1997 Howard R. Marraro Prize, American Catholic Historical Association

Paperback | 2014 | $48.95 | £40.95 | ISBN: 9780691606446
Hardcover | 2016 | $122.50 | £104.95 | ISBN: 9780691635194
352 pp. | 6 x 9 | 11 halftones
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At the end of the sixteenth century, when painters, writers, and scientists from all over Europe flocked to Rome for creative inspiration, the city was also becoming the center of a vibrant and assertive Roman Catholic culture. Closely identified with Rome, the Counter-Reformation church sought to strengthen itself by building on Rome's symbolic value and broadcasting its cultural message loudly and skillfully to the European world. In a book that captures the texture and flavor of this rhetorical strategy, Frederick McGinness explores the new emphasis placed on preaching by Roman church leaders. Looking at the development of a sacred oratory designed to move the heart, he traces the formation of a long-lasting Catholic worldview and reveals the ingenuity of the Counter-Reformation in the transformation of Renaissance humanism.

McGinness not only describes the theory of sermon-writing, but also reconstructs the circumstances, social and physical, in which sermons were delivered. The author considers how sermons blended spirituality with pious legends--for example, stories of the early martyrs--and evocative metaphors to fashion a respublica christiana of loyal Catholics. Preachers projected a "right" view of history, social relationships, and ecclesiastical organization, while depicting a spiritual topography upon which Catholics could chart a path to salvation. At the center of this topography was Rome, a vast stage set for religious pageantry, which McGinness brings to life as he follows the homiletic representations of the city from a bastion of Christian militancy to a haven of harmony, light, and tranquility.

Originally published in 1995.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.


"This is a valuable book. Its prolific notes offers a rich texture of detail. Its seven chapters approach roughly the same subject matter from different angles, so that some readers may wish for a more chronological or more analytic approach, but given the complexity of the subject the method works well."--Theological Studies


"Readers of John O'Malley's Praise and Blame in Renaissance Rome will be heartened to encounter this new book on Counter-Reformation Rome. By a thorough analysis of the whole organization and structure of preaching in Rome during this period, McGinness fills a significant gap in our knowledge. In defining the fine line drawn by Rome after Trent, setting Catholics apart from all other mortals, he addresses those interested in what the Catholic Church became and is now struggling to surmount."--John M. Headley, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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