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Download Exorcism and Enlightenment: Johann Joseph Gassner and the by H. C. Erik Midelfort PDF

By H. C. Erik Midelfort

Within the overdue eighteenth century, Catholic priest Johann Joseph Gassner (1727-1779) found that he had striking powers of exorcism. figuring out that demons have been answerable for so much human illnesses, he healed hundreds of thousands, wealthy and negative, Protestant and Catholic. during this e-book H.C. Erik Midelfort delves deeply into documents of the time to discover Gassner’s striking exorcising crusade, chronicle the respectable efforts to lower him, and reconstruct the sufferings of the afflicted.
Gassner’s actions caused a Catholic spiritual revival in addition to a loud skeptical response. in accordance with those that doubted that he was once quite casting out demons, Gassner marshaled hundreds and hundreds of eyewitness stories that appeared to end up his exorcisms relatively labored. Midelfort describes the big public controversy that resulted, and he demonstrates that the Gassner episode yields very important insights into the German Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment, the constraints of eighteenth-century debate, and the continuing position of magic and trust in an age of medical enlightenment.

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Read or Download Exorcism and Enlightenment: Johann Joseph Gassner and the Demons of Eighteenth-Century Germany (The Terry Lectures Series) PDF

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Extra info for Exorcism and Enlightenment: Johann Joseph Gassner and the Demons of Eighteenth-Century Germany (The Terry Lectures Series)

Example text

But most importantly, Gassner’s cures involved the devil, and the 1770s were not so far removed from the age of witch hunting that this circumstance could be ignored. Enlightened commentators were swift to charge that Gassner threatened to unleash a new wave of witchcraft trials, and with Maria Anna Schwägelin suffering in the poor house of Langenegg, accused of witchcraft in the jurisdiction of the prince abbey of Kempten, they seemed to have a serious point. Recall that Schwägelin was in fact convicted of witchcraft in the spring of 1775, and that she only barely escaped execution.

Indeed, that is what fueled the truly extraordinary literary battle over Gassner. Partisan tracts flew about Germany with an intensity that we otherwise associate with revolutions. The most complete bibliography of the so-called Gassner-Streit lists twelve editions of Gassner’s own little treatise, Weise fromm und gesund zu leben, auch ruhig und gottselig zu sterben, oder nützlicher Unterricht wider den Teufel zu streiten (The Way to Live Piously and Healthily, And how to Die Peacefully and in God’s Grace; Or, Useful Instruction on How to Fight against the Devil).

Opinion was sharply divided at the electoral court in Munich, however, and in particular the ‘‘Protomedicus’’ and privy councillor Johann Anton von Wolter was eager to see if Gassner might heal his daughter, the Baroness von Erdt, who suffered from epilepsy and dizziness. Believers also included the court physician Johann Nepomuk Anton Leuthner. ≤∑ At about the same time, however, Max Joseph forbade Gassner to enter Bavarian territory because he was eager to forestall unrest and religious excitement.

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