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Fiestas and fervor: religious life and Catholic enlightenment in the Diocese of Barcelona, 1766-1775
Smidt, Andrea J.

2006, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, History.

The Enlightenment, or the “Age of Reason,” had a profound impact on eighteenth-century Europe, especially on its religion, producing both outright atheism and powerful movements of religious reform within the Church. The former – culminating in the French Revolution – has attracted many scholars; the latter has been relatively neglected. By looking at “enlightened” attempts to reform popular religious practices in Spain, my project examines the religious fervor of people whose story usually escapes historical attention. “Fiestas and Fervor” reveals the capacity of the Enlightenment to reform the Catholicism of ordinary Spaniards, examining how enlightened or Reform Catholicism affected popular piety in the diocese of Barcelona.


This study focuses on the efforts of an exceptional figure of Reform Catholicism and Enlightenment Spain – Josep Climent i Avinent, Bishop of Barcelona from 1766-1775. The program of “Enlightenment” as sponsored by the Spanish monarchy was one that did not question the Catholic faith and that championed economic progress and the advancement of the sciences, primarily benefiting the elite of Spanish society. In this context, Climent is noteworthy not only because his idea of “Catholic Enlightenment” opposed that sponsored by the Spanish monarchy but also because his was one that implicitly condemned the present hierarchy of the Catholic Church and explicitly advocated popular enlightenment and the creation of a more independent “public sphere” in Spain by means of increased literacy and education of the masses.


Examining the types of popular – albeit exterior – religious practices that were the object of reform as well as Climent’s efforts to promote a better understanding of the Catholic faith which focused on interior rather than exterior forms of piety, I argue that by establishing gratis elementary schools, reforming seminary curricula, and mass-distributing books and pamphlets Climent was able to bring “Enlightenment” to eighteenth-century Barcelona. Illustrating the tensions created by the differing enlightened projects proposed by Climent and the Spanish monarchy, Climent was forced to abdicate. Although he had to step down, branded a “Catalan separatist” by the Council of Castile, Climent’s plan for reform and his implementation of that plan had a larger impact on the form the Enlightenment took in Spain and calls for a re-examination of what was perceived as the Enlightenment in eighteenth-century Europe.

Dale Van Kley (Advisor)
497 p.

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Smidt, A. (2006). Fiestas and fervor: religious life and Catholic enlightenment in the Diocese of Barcelona, 1766-1775. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Smidt, Andrea. "Fiestas and fervor: religious life and Catholic enlightenment in the Diocese of Barcelona, 1766-1775." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2006. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 23 Oct 2018.

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Smidt, Andrea "Fiestas and fervor: religious life and Catholic enlightenment in the Diocese of Barcelona, 1766-1775." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2006. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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