Black Madonnas: Feminism, Religion, and Politics in Italy

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Northeastern University Press, 1993 - History - 273 pages
"Italy is an intriguing paradox: a center of Catholicism in which echoes of goddess worship resonate in everyday Christian ritual. In the Christian tradition, whiteness symbolizes purity, blackness evil. In the religions of Old Europe, however, blackness evoked the fecundity of the earth. White madonnas embody the church doctrine of obedience and patience; black madonnas, many of which have been retouched to appear white, symbolize the equality of all creatures." "In this fascinating study, Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum demonstrates that Italy's black madonnas represent a point of convergence between ancient and modern religious traditions. Drawing on a solid ground of original research, she argues that they are an amalgam of the Christian madonna, African and Asian dark woman divinities, and the ancient goddess of Old Europe. Through them, long submerged prehistoric religious and political beliefs have erupted, forming the core of twentieth-century Italian feminism." "Birnbaum has discovered that areas of radical political activity in Italy are often near archaeological sites of prehistoric goddess worship. And these sites are nearly always the locations of black madonnas. Following a thread of common themes - equality, resistance to injustice, and regeneration - Birnbaum demonstrates that the values associated with goddess worship are those that surround black madonnas. And the same themes are the backbone of left-wing political movements - from feminism to socialism to the green movement - in twentieth-century Italy." "Black Madonnas recounts the ways in which the church attempted to eradicate the popular beliefs of the peasantry and examines the traditions that have survived. The book catalogues the customs and rituals, ceremonies and celebrations, stories and songs, and the everyday lives of peasant women to uncover the traces of ancient practices that permeate modern Christian ritual."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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multicultural liberation theology of easter in the streets
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