Faces of Faith: Monastic Identity and Protestant Theology in the Swiss Reformation
Religious Orders were ever-present in medieval life. Their influence was not limited just to the pulpit or the physical area around monasteries but extended into the daily life of entire kingdoms. Each religious community was unique in the interpretation and expression of its rule of life, both between and within Orders. Religious communities faced pressure from newly converted Protestant authorities alongside theological conversations within their own walls. The new Protestants carried with them an anti-monastic theology that challenged religious communities to reexamine their lives fundamentally. Nowhere were these choices as complicated as in Switzerland, where monks and nuns encountered Lutheran, Zwinglian, Anabaptist, and Reformed theology. I argue that these encounters occurred in conversation with the spiritual traditions of their respective orders, both in those who remained in or left their vows. I specifically look at the first-hand accounts and manuscripts of Swiss Franciscans and Benedictines and place their words in the context of their respective Rule and spiritual traditions. I found that religious that remained Catholic more explicitly expressed their particular spirituality when encountering Protestant theology, while religious that left the habit saw their new beliefs as a different expression, or even a fulfillment, of their original vows. Current historiographical approaches to religious orders in the early Reformation deemphasize individual communities, seeing their interactions with Protestant theology defined by their geography or political status. This paper seeks to approach the Reformation through the lived spiritual experience of religious and recognize the impact their monastic lives had on their decisions.
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences
Institutional Learning Goals
Scholarship; Faith; Traditions
"Faces of Faith: Monastic Identity and Protestant Theology in the Swiss Reformation" (2023). Stander Symposium Projects. 2820.