The Persistence of the Sacred: German Catholic Pilgrimage, 1832–1937

Book Cover: Persistence of the Sacred
Skye Doney. The Persistence of the Sacred: German Catholic Pilgrimage, 1832–1937. University of Toronto Press, 2022.

For millions of Catholic believers, pilgrimage has offered possible answers to the mysteries of sickness, life, and death. The Persistence of the Sacred explores the religious worldviews of Europeans who travelled to Trier and Aachen, two cities in Western Germany, to view the sacred relics in their cathedrals.

The Persistence of the Sacred challenges the narrative of widespread secularization in Europe during the long nineteenth century and reveals that religious practices thrived well into the modern period. It shows both that men were more active in their faith than historians have realized and how clergy and pilgrims did not always agree about the meaning of relics. Drawing on private ephemeral and material sources including films, photographs, postcards, correspondence, and souvenirs, Skye Doney uncovers the enduring and diverse sacred worldview of German Catholics and argues that laity and clergy had very different perspectives on the meaning of pilgrimage.

Recovering the history of Catholic pilgrimage, The Persistence of the Sacred aims to understand the relationship between relics and religiosity, between modernity and faith, and between humanity and God.

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