Abstract and Keywords
In the nineteenth century the Virgin Mary, traditionally the most important woman in the Roman Catholic Church, also became a dynamic negative cultural symbol for Protestants, an ambivalent figure for Anglicans, and an empowering symbol for some feminists. Her role as cultural symbol was the result of the confluence of religious and secular factors, including increased Marian devotion in the Roman Catholic Church, a growing Roman Catholic population in Protestant-dominated countries, the development of Anglo-Catholicism, and the ascendancy of the feminine ideal. Paying particular attention to recent and classic treatments of nineteenth-century Marian devotion in its cultural context, this chapter shows that understanding the competing views of the Virgin Mary is essential to understanding the intersection of religion and secular culture, particularly in relation to gender.
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