Sixteenth Century Essays & Studies, Vol. 65
The role of the saints became a theological dilemma for scholars and laity alike throughout the Reformation era. As Protestants tried to remove themselves from the hold of the Catholic Church, the cult of the saints remained a formidable presence. Through the analysis of 180 pamphlets by reformers in German-speaking Europe, Carol Heming shows the struggle Protestants faced in purging the cult of the saints from their culture and religion. Heming examines why Reformation leaders so strongly and universally denounced the cult of the saints and whether the holy patrons disappeared from Protestant areas without benefit of champion or defender.
I know of no other study that focuses so thoroughly and clearly on this crucial issue of the early Reformation. Heming’s book goes behind the outbreaks of iconoclasm to explain how the cult of the saints violated Protestant theology, piety, and social concerns. The author challenges the assumption that Protestants quickly rejected the saints and shows how they had to wrest themselves from the centerpiece of medieval devotion.
Presence of the Saints
Religion and the Saints
Society and the Saints
Reformers and the Saints
Virgin Mary among the Saints
Ubiquity of the Saints
Persistence of the Saints
Disputations, Diets, and Colloquies
Key to Works Cited in this Appendix
Scriptural References Used against the Saints and Images
Heming provides an important glimpse into this contested arena of historical scholarship. ...a great deal of useful information is included.
—Renaissance Quarterly, Spring 2005
This concise book fills a gap in the English-language literature on the early Reformation. It is distinguished by a succinct, elegant prose style accessible to the lay reader without condescending to the academic....The sections of the book dealing with the pamphlet discourse on the cult of saints fulfill a long-term desideratum. Its well-written style and subtle conclusions should ensure its usefulness to a variety of audiences including researchers, undergraduates, congregations, and churches.
—Sixteenth Century Journal
“This excellent survey is more of a synthesis than a revisionist thesis, and it focuses most intensely on the early years of the Protestant Reformation, and on the theological questions raised in the texts of major Reformers, in public disputations, and in popular pamphlet literature. Its command of the printed texts and of the scholarship is excellent, making the book a wonderfully thorough introduction to the subject.”
—Carlos M. N. Eire, Yale University, The Catholic Historical Review