Presenter Information

Barbara B. Diefendorf


Barbara Diefendorf argues that Vincentian piety arose from the spirituality evoked by the late sixteenth century’s religious wars. These wars brought with them a fear of God’s judgment. This fear, coupled with disgust for the excesses of the unreformed Church, led to penitential piety, which emphasized extreme asceticism and Christ’s suffering on the cross. Later, there was a shift to the imitation of his life through service to the poor. Diefendorf examines female piety typified by Marie Du Drac and Barbe Aurillot, also known as Madame Acarie. Both practiced severe forms of mortification, nursed the poor, and worked in prisons. Both exemplified the political element of their era’s piety as ardent supporters of the Holy Union of the Catholic League, a Parisian faction prominent in the religious wars. The asceticism and influence of the Capuchin and Feuillant orders are discussed.