Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Wisconsin / Madison

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Wisconsin / Madison
Our Lady across the Border: Marian Pilgrimage in Revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe

For anticlerical European elites, around 1800, pilgrimage represented a form of fanaticism fragilizing the borders of revolutionary and imperial states. Meanwhile, countless Catholics pursued powerful grace from the Virgin Mary in a time of unprecedented turmoil. In revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe (1789-1815), the great Marian pilgrimages mattered urgently—both to those searching for religious renewal and to governments seeking to regulate religious practice, control mobility, and defend constantly shifting borders. My dissertation project asks how pilgrimages set people in motion across long distances, and how pilgrims navigated political upheaval, war, and widespread anti-Catholic repression by the state. It also investigates how devotion to the Virgin Mary and the broader culture of Catholicism changed in the process. For instance, how did Marian pilgrimages intersect with emigration movements? Did women more often acquire prominent spiritual roles during these pilgrimages, and if so, what political implications did that shift carry? To answer these questions, I will focus on pilgrims going to Einsiedeln in Switzerland, Kevelaer in the German Rhineland, and Czestochowa in Poland. My project outlines an innovative framework that enables me to access shifts in transnational Catholicism, empire-building, and the effects of revolutionary change at the same time. As a heuristic starting point, I contend that Catholicism was both polycentric—that is, not merely Rome-centered—and decentered in relation to the new territorial order. I suggest that Einsiedeln, Kevelaer, and Czestochowa each represented a different mode of polycentric Catholicism, developing in response to specific political and territorial changes. On this basis, I propose to explore transnational Marian pilgrimages as a laboratory for the complex relationship between the Catholic Church on the one hand and the loyalties as well as power dynamics at work in modern statehood on the other hand.