This collection of essays examines the place of ‘saints’ and sanctity in nineteenth-century Britain. It argues that holy men and women were pivotal in religious discourse, as subjects of veneration and inter-confessional contention. Protestants were as fascinated by such figures as Catholics were. Long after the mechanisms of canonization had disappeared, they continued not only to engage with the saints of the past but continued to make their own saints in all but name. Just as strikingly, it claims that devotional practices and language were not the property of orthodox Christians alone. Even in an age of confessional strife, doubt and secularisation, devotional practices and language remained central to how both Christians and their opponents reflected on that changing world. Making and remaking saints is significant, then, because until now no-one has explored how sainthood remained significant in this period both as an enduring institution and as a fruitful metaphor that could be transposed into unexpected contexts. Each of the chapters in this volume focuses on the reception of a particular individual or group. Together they will attract not just historians of religion, but those concerned with material culture, the cult of history, and with the reshaping of British identities in an age of faith and doubt
by the general, rather than the particular, world of the spiritual or
But the dilemma is that, despite this urge away from particular
dogmaticism, the Irish writer, in representing a culture in which the
religious has been so pervasive, can hardly be expected to avoid the
terminology of the religious. This problem was addressed interestingly,
if not entirely satisfactorily, by John F. Deane in the introduction to his
valuable anthology Irish Poetry of FaithandDoubt: The Cold Heaven.8
Deane says that his material is:
poetry that has sprung from a
Jews as Europeans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
Venice, 1550-1670 , Oxford, 1983 , p. 117. For further debate on this
subject, see Edwards, ‘Religious faithanddoubt in late
medieval Spain: Soria circa 1450-1500’, Past and
Present , 120, 1988 , pp. 4-5 and ‘Why the Spanish
Inquisition?’, Studies in Church History , XXIX, 1992 , pp.
Victorian schoolchildren looking for references to Tarshish, Tyre and Ophir would find them in Rider Haggard's 1885 adventure novel King Solomon’s Mines , but they were designed to give a sense of the exotic rather than to bolster belief.
Like much current work on nineteenth-century religion, this chapter has sought to nuance received assumptions about the direction of cultural and intellectual travel. On the one hand it shares the scepticism of recent work towards the now tired paradigm of ‘faithanddoubt’ that takes
dead of both sides are interred together and the bravery of one side is
commemorated by the other. Emblematically it foreshadows the famous
closing lines from Wilfred Owen’s poem, Strange Meeting:
‘I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark; for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now …’11
Faithanddoubt: The ambiguity of war memorial symbolism
Owen himself was killed just one week before the end of the war, also in
an action that involved a canal – the
FaithandDoubt (New Haven:
Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 19–40.
14 George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, 4 vols (Edinburgh and London:
William Blackwood and Sons, 1871–72), I: pp. v–vii; IV: p. 371.
15 Rowland E. Prothero, The Life and Correspondence of Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, 2 vols (London:
John Murray, 1893), I: p. 116.
16 Philip C. Almond, The British Discovery of Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1988); Almond, Heretic and Hero: Muhammad and the Victorians (Wiesbaden:
O. Harrassowitz, 1989); Clinton Bennett, Victorian
Richard Schweitzer, The Cross and the
Trenches: Religious FaithandDoubt among British and American
Great War Soldiers (Praeger: Westport, Conn., 2003); Daniel
Todman, ‘ “Sans Peur et sans Reproche”: The
Retirement, Death and Mourning of Sir Douglas Haig,
1918–1928’, Journal of Military History 67
(2003), 1083–1106; Allen J
the most comprehensive discussion of evangelicalism,
see D. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain (London: Unwin
Hyman, 1989). For the Oxford Movement, see P B. Nockles, The Oxford
Movement in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994 ). For Broad Churchmen, see E. Jay, FaithandDoubt in Victorian Britain (Basingstoke & London: Macmillan
Education, 1986 ), Chapter 3