Liesbeth Corens deposited Saints beyond borders: Relics and the English Catholic Community in the Southern Netherlands in the group Religious Studies on Humanities Commons 6 years, 9 months ago
This paper proposes a Catholic case study in a field dominated by studies on Protestant migrants. One of the main differences between the confessions was the institutional provision for the liturgical and devotional lives of laity abroad. Catholics did not found separate institutions similar to Protestant exile churches which channelled the sense of belonging and internal cohesion of Protestant migrants. However, institutional provision was not the only way of maintaining cohesion as a group. Informal bonds, and communal understanding played an equally important part in fostering and preserving group identity. This essay discusses how the English Catholic community abroad retained a sense of belonging while geographically and ecclesiologically within the Catholic Church on the Continent. It uses William Christian’s ‘local religion’ as tool to explore the tensions and understandings between the particular and universal aspects of Catholicism. Did ‘local religion’ change shape, meaning, and importance in the context of an expatriate community? Was ‘local religion’ really ‘localised’, or could we look at a wide geographical framework? How did expatriates relate their devotional lives to their home country? Focusing veneration of English saints, this essay explores how this maintained, and gave a particular shape to the English Catholic community within the universal Church. It pieces together records from English families, religious foundations, and local authorities, preserved in Belgium, France, and England. Thereby, a community comes to light which was less visible than clearly defined Protestant exile churches, but which offers insights in the development of confessional mobility and early modern Catholicism.