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Sensuous Worship:
Jesuits and the Art of the Early Catholic Reformation in Germany
Jeffrey Chipps Smith

Winner of the 2003 Vasari Award, Dallas Museum of Art
Winner of the 2003 Bainton Prize
Winner of the 2004 Robert W. Hamilton Book Award

Hardcover | 2003 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691090726


When the Jesuits entered Germany in the 1540s, the Protestant Reformation was on the verge of obliterating a Catholic Church already in tatters. Yet the seemingly imminent collapse never happened, and Catholicism recovered dramatically. This extensively illustrated book explores a key reason why German Catholicism survived and flourished. It provides the first comprehensive treatment of the Jesuits' poorly understood but remarkable revitalization of German religious art and culture--an accomplishment that would guide the direction of both religious life and subsequent German baroque art.

Jeffrey Chipps Smith describes how the Jesuits, partly through their rich contributions to art, catalyzed the re-formation of German Catholic religious identities. Their diverse missions included the erection or renovation of over thirty major churches between 1570 and 1648. Aided by wealthy benefactors and bringing in artists from across Europe, the Jesuits built imposing and beautifully appointed churches, including St. Michael's in Munich and Mariä Himmelfahrt's in Cologne. Designed to impress and to teach, these structures reflect Jesuit commitments to the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who emphasized individual responsibility for salvation. Jesuit churches triumphantly celebrated fundamental Catholic beliefs, while providing a setting for the worshipper's spiritual maturation.

The Jesuits embraced the affective potential of art to transform the individual by stimulating the senses to promote memory, intellect, and will. Sensuous Worship shows how, by doing so, they revived German Catholicism and had lasting effects on German art.


"A model of the study of sacred architecture. Smith has produced a thoroughly researched volume that comfortably weaves back and forth between case study and comprehensive discussion, architectural and religious history, and traditional and experimental models of art historical scholarship. . . . The book is gracefully written and well illustrated. . . . This major contribution to the study of Jesuit architecture will be regular reading for architectural and religious historians alike."--Choice

"This richly illustrated book cannot be recommended too highly. It is an essential work of Jesuit history."--Anthony Symondson, The Catholic Herald

"The story . . . is told not only clearly and learnedly, but also very sympathetically. The book's black-and-white illustrations are abundant and excellent."--James Gaffney, Religious Studies Review

"Sensuous Worship is a valuable addition to the ever-growing historiogaphy of the Catholic Reformation. . . . The erudite text is amplified by generous illustrations. . . . There is a superb bibliography too."--Maria Dowling, Ecclesiastical History


"To the burgeoning literature on the Jesuits, Smith adds a powerful and well-considered case study that makes the reader aware that the revival of Catholicism in Germany was anything but inevitable. This is a timely, well-researched, and readable book."--Larry Silver, University of Pennsylvania

File created: 3/10/2015

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