Jerusalem in the reinvention of the Catholic tradition, 1500–1700
The Early Modern Franciscans understood all too well the imaginative power of Jerusalem as a sacred place. Between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the brothers of the Holy Land published over twenty pilgrimage treatises, two chronicles, and several scholarly texts. In their guided visitation of the Holy Places of Jerusalem, Franciscan pilgrimage treatises traced the imprint of Constantinian rule and that of Christ and his followers. In the Franciscan treatises, visitation of the chapels of Helen and crusader rulers served as important reminders to European Christians of a long history of engagement in the Holy Land. The friars were very much concerned about the state of the Holy Land under Islamic rule and eagerly sought a new age that would be defined by Christian rule in the region. The importance that friars attached to the Holy Places as generators of spiritual renewal, however, suggests that they were also responding to the embattled state of the Catholic tradition in Reformation Europe.