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Faith in the familyA lived religious history of English Catholicism, 1945-82$
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Alana Harris

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719085741

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719085741.001.0001

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‘Plaster saints’ or ‘spiritual friends’?

‘Plaster saints’ or ‘spiritual friends’?

St Thérèse of Lisieux, St Bernadette Soubirous and the Forty Martyrs

(p.202) Chapter 5 ‘Plaster saints’ or ‘spiritual friends’?
Faith in the family

Alana Harris

Manchester University Press

This chapter addresses the shifting hagiographical traditions surrounding St Thérèse of Lisieux and St Bernadette Soubirous. It argues that there was a movement from the presentation of these saints as exemplary character models of obedience and sacrifice towards accounts that placed a greater premium on each saint’s historicity and personality within an explicitly psychological framework. The emphasis upon an experiential, ‘this-worldly’ spirituality increasingly present within biographies of St Thérèse, which ensured she was enduringly popular throughout the period, is contrasted with the cause for the canonisation of the forty English and Welsh martyrs. These case-studies illustrate the forms of sanctity which continued to be recognised and valued as the century progressed, and the ways in which these reconstructions could form a valuable spiritual resource for English Catholics, negotiating new demands and challenges to family life.

Keywords:   Thérèse of Lisieux, St Bernadette Soubirous, Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, saints, hagiography, psychology, experience, material religion, miracles

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