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date: 11 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Children’s burial grounds (cillíní) are a recognized class of Irish archaeological monument that were used as the designated burial places for unbaptized infants among the Roman Catholic population. The evidence from historical and archaeological studies indicates a proliferation in the use of cillíní following the 17th century and that the tradition continued in use until the mid 20th century. This can be linked with the rise of Counter-Reformation Catholicism and the role played in Ireland by the Franciscans of Louvain, who were strong Augustinianists. The chapter reviews the development of new burial legislation in the Victorian era and suggests that this led the Church to take greater responsibility for the burial of the unbaptized through the creation of unconsecrated burial plots in Catholic cemeteries. The end of the tradition can be ascribed to the reforms undertaken within the Church as a result of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

Keywords: infant, burial, baptism, archaeology, Ireland, Catholic Church, tradition, post-medieval, Counter-Reformation

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