The Miracle of Amsterdam
Biography of a Contested Devotion
464 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 , 41 halftones; 1 map
Hardcover | 9780268105655 | May 2019
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268105686 | May 2019
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268105679 | May 2019
The Miracle of Amsterdam presents a “cultural biography” of a Dutch devotional manifestation. According to tradition, on the night of March 15, 1345, a Eucharistic host thrown into a burning fireplace was found intact hours later. A chapel was erected over the spot, and the citizens of Amsterdam became devoted to their “Holy Stead." From the original Eucharistic processions evolved the custom of individual devotees walking around the chapel while praying in silence, and the growing international pilgrimage site contributed to the rise and prosperity of Amsterdam.
With the arrival of the Reformation, the Amsterdam Miracle became a point of contention between Catholics and Protestants, and the changing fortunes of this devotion provide us a front-row seat to the challenges facing religion in the world today. Caspers and Margry trace these transformations and their significance through the centuries, from the Catholic medieval period through the Reformation to the present day.
Charles Caspers is an expert in the field of popular devotions, spirituality, liturgy, and mission history. Together with Peter Jan Margry he published a four-volume study on pilgrimage sites in the Netherlands. He is a senior fellow of the Titus Brandsma Institute in Nijmegen.
Peter Jan Margry is professor of European ethnology at the University of Amsterdam and a senior fellow at the Meertens Institute. He is the editor of Shrines and Pilgrimage in the Modern World: New Itineraries into the Sacred.
"The subtitle 'Biography of a Contested Devotion' aptly describes The Miracle of Amsterdam. This is the account of a devotional cult in Amsterdam from its origins in 1345 to the present day, thus a period of almost six hundred years. Despite the fact that the book has two authors, its authorial voice is remarkably uniform and consistent. The book is impeccably researched, elegantly written, and judicious in its handling of sometimes very tricky evidence. I found it to be a deeply insightful, balanced, humane treatment of an important topic." —Daniel Hobbins, University of Notre Dame
"The book is the first to provide a synthesis of the historical work on the Amsterdam cult and the curious religious practices that developed around it. It is one of the great achievements of this book that the authors can convince their readers of how the ritual has its own chapters. The scholarly work is impressive. The authors combine well-known historical facts and figures with smaller stories and testimonies by lay Catholics that might seem trivial at first but prove to be particularly meaningful and telling." —Tine Van Osselaer, Ruusbroec Institute of the University of Antwerp
"In their marvelously detailed account, Charles Caspers and Peter Jan Margry show how deeply embedded sacred matters are in the history of a place. Excavating layer upon layer of political, civil, and religious history, the authors bring to light the deeply structured cultural memory of a miracle, demonstrating in the process just how richly creative tradition can be. The miracle of a fourteenth-century Eucharistic host is as persistent as Dutch Catholicism and as vivacious as the city of Amsterdam. Extensively researched and clearly written, this book is a model of how to do the cultural history of religion." —David Morgan, Duke University
"This 'cultural biography' recounts the fascinating life of a religious devotion that has persisted from the Middle Ages to today. Repeatedly changing form and meaning, veneration of the Miracle of Amsterdam has been an important part of Dutch Catholic identity for almost seven centuries. Through the lens of the Miracle, Caspers and Margry offer a compelling view of a much wider story of religious and social change." —Ben Kaplan, University College London