Religious Lives: Catholic Culture in the Early Modern World

Friday 18–Saturday 19 May 2012.

St Edmund Hall, Oxford


S. Maria Maddalena de’ PazziWritten, spoken, painted, or performed, the life stories of Catholic men and women – particularly members of religious orders – dominated the culture of early modern Catholicism.

This conference will address the growing body of scholarship devoted to understanding biographies and auto-biographies as they appeared in various forms within religious communities and Catholic society at large. These include institutional chronicles, canonization documents, festive decorations, images and pictorial cycles, and musical pieces, in addition to auto/biographical texts and spiritual testimonies – to name only a few. Many such narratives remained amongst a small audience, whilst others crossed national boundaries and were introduced in new, altered or translated forms. The conference will explore how life narratives were presented, interpreted and used to express confessional viewpoints and the corporate identities of religious orders. We seek to bring scholars from the disciplines of literature, history, theology, art history and music into conversation about the forms and functions of religious life stories in European and new world contexts.

For more information, please email

Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi

A concert by Oxford Baroque

The Queen’s College Chapel, Friday 18 May, 8.30pm

The conference will include a period performance of Giovanni Lorenzo Lulier’s biographical oratorio ‘Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi’, which premiered at the Palazzo Pamphili, Rome in 1687. Performed by the dazzling Oxford Baroque, this piece will be placed in its historical context, opening discussion on the modes and purposes of articulating Catholic lives.

Concert tickets can be booked online, or are available on the door (£12/£6 conc.)

SRS logo

With the generous support of the Society for Renaissance Studies

and the John Fell Oxford University Press (OUP) Research Fund