Indulgenced Objects in Early Modern Catholic Worlds.
Agency, Materiality and the Pope’s Prerogative.

Despite the controversy over indulgences and indulgenced objects, the early modern period stands out for an insatiable appetite for rosaries, prayer beads, and other devotional objects. Catholics from all social layers were most keen on obtaining devotional objects that had been blessed by the pope. How are we to understand this craving for blessed objects against the background of early modern piety, raging confessional wars and globally operating Catholicism?

During the fellowship at the Herzog August Bibliothek, I will look at how early modern authors (both Catholics and protestants) understood the relation of blessed and indulgenced objects to the pope. At the same time, I am interested to see how Catholic church authorities grew anxious about the correct and decorous handling of blessed devotional objects. They became outright suspicious of objects blessed by others than the pope or a bishop, as becomes clear of the suppressed cult of the blessed beads of Spanish mystic Juana de la Cruz (d. 1534).


During her fellowship at the Herzog August Bibliothek, Minou Schraven organizes a Colloquium at the Royal Dutch Institute in Rome about Handling Devotional Objects in Early Modern Worlds: