Religious Mentalities

  • John Aberth
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)


For some European Christians, like Gabriele de Mussis (Document 23), the extraordinary mortality of the Black Death was proof of the righteous judgment of God visited upon a sinful humanity—the clergy, chief among them—which inevitably invited intimations of a coming apocalypse or reign of the Antichrist. But even Mussis, who does not doubt that God’s vengeance is just, seems so overwhelmed by the plague that he begins to despair of God’s mercy. As we have seen, others, like Petrarch (Document 15), could not understand why humankind deserved such awful punishment and began to question whether God even played a role in their lives. Overall, however, the predominant response seems to have been to seek solace and hope in the prayers and processions led by bishops and the clergy. Christians directed religious appeals to God and to saints especially known for their mercy or power against the plague, such as the Virgin Mary, St. Sebastian, St. Anthony, and St. Roch. Many also resorted to local saint cults, such as the Virgin Agatha of Catania in Sicily (Document 24), or the newly established shrine of St. Thomas Cantilupe in Hereford, England.1


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© Bedford/St. Martin’s 2005

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  • John Aberth

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