Books, Readers, Printers

Forbidden Prayers Library (16th-18th)

The objective of the Forbidden Prayers Library is to analyse the corpus of prayers in the vernacular that were banned in the Indexes of Prohibited Books of the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese Inquisitions between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

These prayers were used as a means of protection against the dangers and difficulties of everyday life and were effective whether they were read or carried. They could be accompanied by herbs or other elements. The variety of possible uses explains their widespread circulation among the uneducated social strata, although not exclusively there, and means that they can be considered in the category of text-object.

The project proposes to fill the bibliographical gap in this group of texts neglected by modern censorship studies, to consider extending the categories of prohibition from texts to devotional objects, to restore this pan-European heritage of piety by recovering preserved or indirect testimonies of forbidden prayers, and to carry out a rigorous analysis of censorship policies aimed at regulating simple forms of religiosity. Some of the novel features of the proposal include unearthing, editing and publicizing a hitherto unexplored corpus, and the approach taken to the study of prayers in their historical, symbolic and material dimensions. The action will culminate in the creation of a digital repository, the Forbidden Prayers Digital Library: a catalogue raisonné and an Open Access space for texts, images and objects that will contribute to the recovery of part of European religious culture that was erased by the effects of inquisitorial censorship.

Line of research team