Suspicions of witchcraft in Finland
did not die out with the witch trials. 1 Traditional forms of magic and sorcery 2 continued to be not only suspected, but also
practised in the Finnish countryside some two hundred years after the last
witchcraft prosecutions in Finland, if we are to believe dozens of
eyewitness accounts from farmers and labourers in the early twentiethcentury. 3 Although
Drawing upon a multi-disciplinary methodology employing diverse written sources, material practices and vivid life histories, Faith in the Family seeks to assess the impact of the Second Vatican Council on the ordinary believer, alongside contemporaneous shifts in British society relating to social mobility, the sixties, sexual morality, and secularisation. Chapters examine the changes in the Roman Catholic liturgy and Christology, devotion to Mary, the rosary and the place of women in the family and church, as well as the enduring (but shifting) popularity of Saints Bernadette and Thérèse. Appealing to students of modern British gender and cultural history, as well as a general readership interested in religious life in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century, Faith in the Family illustrates that despite unmistakable differences in their cultural accoutrements and interpretations of Catholicism, English Catholics continued to identify with and practise the ‘Faith of Our Fathers’ before and after Vatican II.
The study of witchcraft accusations in Europe during the period after the end of the witch trials is still in its infancy. Witches were scratched in England, swum in Germany, beaten in the Netherlands and shot in France. The continued widespread belief in witchcraft and magic in nineteenth- and twentieth-century France has received considerable academic attention. The book discusses the extent and nature of witchcraft accusations in the period and provides a general survey of the published work on the subject for an English audience. It explores the presence of magical elements in everyday life during the modern period in Spain. The book provides a general overview of vernacular magical beliefs and practices in Italy from the time of unification to the present, with particular attention to how these traditions have been studied. By functioning as mechanisms of social ethos and control, narratives of magical harm were assured a place at the very heart of rural Finnish social dynamics into the twentieth century. The book draws upon over 300 narratives recorded in rural Finland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that provide information concerning the social relations, tensions and strategies that framed sorcery and the counter-magic employed against it. It is concerned with a special form of witchcraft that is practised only amongst Hungarians living in Transylvania.
and its people.
By the middle of the twentiethcentury, however, massive social and
cultural changes were already underway, and soon Irish society could
no longer ignore them. The 1956 murder trial of midwife-turnedillegal-abortionist Mamie Cadden publicised the realities of
reproduction for some women, betraying the constructed ideal of
national motherhood and exposing the myth of Irish sexual purity.
Women’s emigration, meanwhile, continued to be endemic; from 1951
to 1961, over half of all Irish emigrants were female, and the travels of
many were framed as an
of a more assimilable set of
immigrants from Catholic Spain, Portugal and Italy in the 1940s and 1950s had
meant that tensions had not surfaced over the questions of religious, racial and
cultural homogeneity. With the earlier Eastern European migrants, questions
arose about political loyalty. This proved to be an unreliable expectation in the
second half of the twentiethcentury, as immigrants from an empire that had
outlived its usefulness arrived in the labour-starved motherland and found themselves being blamed for being different, ghettoized and, in effect
working-class mothers prayed with their rosary beads ‘in church,
home, on the street, in shops or queues, almost anywhere’.3 These
accounts illustrate that lay Irish women came to represent faith and
nation in the modern age. They testify to the central positions that lay
women held in the religious worlds of nineteenth and twentieth-century
Ireland even as they document both changes and continuities in how
women practiced their faith from the post-famine decades to 1950.
In the immediate aftermath of the Great Famine, the Irish Catholic
Church remained institutionally
The Irish Catholic mother
Autobiographies and memoirs written in the late nineteenth and early
twentiethcenturies affirm the pivotal influence of the Irish Catholic
mother. As Maynooth scholar Walter MacDonald reminisced in 1926:
I love to think of my mother, who was quite unlike – superior to –
any other woman whom I have met, of her class. ... She was
always at work, heavy work very often, about the house – cleaning,
washing, ironing, sewing, cooking … . I remember, above everything else, the reverent care with which she undressed us and put
us to bed
Women and Catholic culture
Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ireland boasted a vast
body of prescriptive literature that instructed women how to lead
proper Catholic lives.1 A key example, Bernard O’Reilly’s 1883 advice
book The Mirror of True Womanhood, conflated women’s religious
and domestic duties:
There is nothing on earth which the Creator and Lord of all
things holds more dear than [the] home, in which … a mother’s
unfailing and all-embracing tenderness will be, like the light and
warmth of the sun in the heavens, the source of life, and joy
bereaved families, including Irish playwright Sean
O’Casey’s sister, were assisted by the Society in the twentiethcentury
and identifies the benefits of its policy changes for widows and children.
It also analyses the children’s transition from dependence to independent adulthood, evidence which serves as a barometer of the Society’s
success in the twentiethcentury.
‘A new departure’
By the end of the nineteenth century, fifteen boards of guardians had
appointed women’s committees to oversee the boarding out of workhouse children.3 The Pauper Children (Ireland) Act was
4035 The debate.qxd:-
The Tudor revolution in religion:
the twentieth-century debate
The figure of Henry VIII stands astride the Reformation century –
a man of moods, at one moment terrifying and at another wooing
his subjects, but always in command of the situation. But was he?
At the very heart of the modern debate about the English
Reformation lies the question – how far was the official
Reformation the creation of the monarch?
During the past 100 years many historians have turned their
attention to this question