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The “Modern Martyrdom” of Anglo-Catholics in Victorian England

Janes, Dominic (2011) The “Modern Martyrdom” of Anglo-Catholics in Victorian England. Journal of Religion and Society 13 , ISSN 1522-5658.

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Abstract

The word “martyr” was widely applied in the later nineteenth century to a number of Anglican “ritualist” clergy who had been prosecuted for performing overtly “Catholic” liturgical practices. The focal point for such usage occurred when several individuals were imprisoned for having flouted the Public Worship Regulation Act (1874). Supporters of this legislation accused their opponents of being fakes in that their “modern martyrdom” consisted of little more than short spells in prison. However, Anglo-Catholics connected acts of contemporary defiance with those of the confessors of the early Church. A quasi-hagiographic body of discourse began to coalesce around key figures such as Arthur Tooth and Alexander MacKonochie. This process did not get far because the campaign of persecution was swiftly abandoned, however, the term “martyrdom” has subsequently become widespread in the historical discussion of these men even though none of them died for their faith. This episode highlights the way in which martyrdom can be seen in relation to milder as well as more extreme acts of religious repression and witness. But also, in so far as the cults of saints and martyrs can be seen as being substantially constructed through hagiographies and martyrologies, this episode emphasizes the discursive aspects of martyrdom in general and the role of the media in particular in the contested emergence of religious heroes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: First published in Journal of Religion and Society v.13, 2011
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Arts > History of Art
Depositing User: Dr Dominic Janes
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2011 10:32
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2014 12:05
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/4233

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