The Popes and the People. A History of Italian Piety
Prof. Massimo DiGioacchino
The course is a journey through 250 years of Italian history, from the French revolution to the current pontificate of Pope Francis. The aim is to capture fundamental moments and issues in the religious life of the Italian people. While focusing mainly on Italy, the course will also take into account questions and events that relate to the broader history of Western societies. The primary type of documents that will be examined are the papal encyclicals (official letters authored by the popes). The course will study the theological and political content of the encyclicals, as well as their linguistic and stylistic strategies. While focusing primarily on pontificates and their intellectual production, the course will pay attention also to the religious life of the people and the documents that reveal their devotion and beliefs. In this regard, the class will shed light on the historic tensions and conflicts in Catholic history between the religious canon (that is the set of laws and norms produced by the Holy See across the centuries), and the actual practices and beliefs of the people.
The course will be delivered in a seminar mode. Students will be invited to give presentations, comment on the readings, and be actively engaged all the time. Attention will be paid to the original Italian documents or their translation. Students with no knowledge of the Italian language are welcome to join.