Irish exorcists in the Catholic Reformation

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O'Donnell, Alma
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University College Cork
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This thesis analyses the work of Irish exorcists during the Catholic Reformation and examines the role that exorcism played in the Catholic missions in Ireland throughout the seventeenth century. Recent scholarship of Irish sources has focused on cases of possession and exorcism recorded in witch trials and public records, leaving the sources from Catholic missionaries largely unstudied. This had led to a misconception that cases of exorcism in Ireland were notably rare. This thesis examines the extent that exorcism used as part of the Catholic mission in Ireland. The aim is to provide the first focused study of early modern Irish cases of exorcism and discern how significant exorcism was. This thesis looks at various sources in the form of case-studies, including the Litterae Annuae of Society of Jesus, the seventeenth-century histories from the Irish Capuchin Order by Robert O’Connell and Nicholas Archbold, accounts from the Discalced Carmelite Order, as well as a pamphlet by Edmund Nangle and accounts of Fr James Finaghty, a famed and controversial wonder-working priest. It shows that exorcism was a significant tool for the Catholic mission in Ireland, identifying over forty-five cases of demonic attack and exorcism within those sources. Furthermore, the reaction of the governing authorities demonstrate that cases of public exorcism in the Catholic community were dealt with in a serious manner. This thesis also compares the Irish cases to their European counterparts, and determines that while many similarities are found, there are significant deviations in two factors: when exorcisms occur and the gender ratio of the victims of demonic attack.
History , Religion , Reformation , Neo-Latin , Early modern history , History of ideas , Catholic history
O'Donnell, A. 2020. Irish exorcists in the Catholic Reformation. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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