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Rouven Wirbser: Ad poenitentiam movere. The role and use of emotions in Jesuit popular missions

In 1715, the Jesuits introduced a new form of popular mission to the duchy of Jülich-Kleve. Two Southern German Jesuit preachers, Georg Loferer (1680–1756) and Konrad Herdegen (1670–1724), who had studied the so-called apostolic method (or Segneri method) in Italy conducted the first mission according to the new method in the town of Jülich in May 1715.[1] As the missionaries wanted to move their audience to penitence, the mission was marked by several outstanding features which aimed at the emotional involvement of the lay populace such as nocturnal penitential processions, intense self-flagellations of the missionaries and the use of torches and skulls to underline the contents of the sermons.[2] In reports to their superiors Loferer and Herdegen describe the positive response of the populace to these features: As a consequence of the new method an extraordinarily high number of participants confessed and received the sacrament in the aftermath. Continue reading