Chapter 8 Trading in spiritual and earthly good
Taylor and Francis
1 electronic resource (17 pages)
The spread of Catholicism among the local Christian population in theSyro-Palestinian region has attracted the attention of many scholars. Previousresearch has described how missionaries' work was facilitated by thepatronage of local notables, by the establishment of personal ties with locals,and more generally by a wide range of daily interactions, such as providingmedical assistance. 1 In this framework, academic attention has mostlyfocused on the cities, consistent with the fact that missions were far morenumerous in urban areas. An important exception is a pioneering work byBernard Heyberger. This early study reconstructs how, departing from theirhouses in cities such as Sayda and Tripoli, Jesuits and Capuchins visitedrural villages in Galilee and Lebanon. Inspired by the model of rural missionsdeveloped in Europe during the Catholic Reformation, their activitieshinged on confession and preaching. In line with the regional framework,missionaries also carefully built ties with locals and offered their medicalcompetencies, which greatly helped their cause. 2 Although the importanceof interactions with the locals in the spread of Catholicism in the MiddleEast has been widely acknowledged, many questions about the nature ofthese interactions still remain unanswered: How did the administrative andeconomic system that characterized rural and semi-rural spaces influencemissionaries' interactions with the surrounding areas? What was the relationshipbetween missionaries' entanglement with local society and theirevangelizing activities? And, finally, to what extent did these interactionsturn the missionaries into "localized" protagonists?
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