Devotion to St. Gerard Majella in Newfoundland : the saint system in operation and transition

Bowman, Marion Irene (1985) Devotion to St. Gerard Majella in Newfoundland : the saint system in operation and transition. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

In Newfoundland this century there has been considerable devotion to St. Gerard Majella, who has been best known and most vigorously promoted as "The Mothers' Saint." St. Gerard has been particularly important to many women during pregnancy and childbirth, but what has been asked and expected of him has varied according to the needs and circumstances of the individual, and the manner of dealing with the saint has been very much a personal affair. This study investigates why and how St. Gerard achieved such popularity on the island, how relationships with him have been conducted, and why this devotion, like many others, is now in decline. In doing so, it provides a record of the saint system in operation and transition in twentieth century Newfoundland. -- There has frequently been a significant gap between official theory and private practice in devotion to saints. What has become accepted belief and behaviour at popular level has not always tallied with the official standpoint, nor has the official position always been made clear at parish level. To get an accurate picture of the practice, as opposed to the theory, of religion, it is necessary to take into account folk and individual beliefs and practices. Using information from popular devotional literature, and interviews with people involved in and peripheral to devotion to St. Gerard Majella, this study demonstrates the lack of uniformity below the surface of a standard feature of Roman Catholicism. It shows the complex interrelationship of official, folk, and individual religion, and the difficulties faced by laity, religious, and observers alike in distinguishing between them. -- In addition to tracing a significant episode in the socio-religious history of Newfoundland, and examining one manifestation of a centuries' old devotional tradition, it is hoped that this account of devotion to St. Gerard Majella will contribute to the recognition of folk religion as an important, extensive, and inevitable element of religion per se.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5485
Item ID: 5485
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 215-229.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1985
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Maiella, Gerardo, Saint, 1726-1755; Christian saints--Cult--Newfoundland and Labrador; Saints--Cult--Newfoundland and Labrador

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