ABSTRACT

There was a rise in both Catholicism and the veneration of Mary in the nineteenth century. This chapter sets the ‘Marian Century’ in the context of global political change and devotional life. The story begins in a series of apparitions of Mary, often to women and children, together with increasing papal support. Sites of appearances became centres of pilgrimage, and the Virgin took on a central role in the lives of the faithful, with hundreds of newly established churches dedicated in her name. Through art and iconography and through the presence of churches at the heart of many communities, the Virgin became central to community and cultural life. Her prominence strengthened the Catholic establishment. For Anglicans, particularly Anglo-Catholics, Mary was a link with the pre-Reformation world and a focus for the formation of new Anglican sisterhoods and personal devotion. The chapter refers briefly to the Orthodox Churches, before moving on to the often hostile response to Marian devotion among Protestants in Britain and America, where Marian devotion was perceived as both pagan and undermining of family life. The chapter ends with a section on the place of Mary in the thinking of secularists, such as Émile Zola.