Religious conversion and identity: the semiotic analysis of by Massimo Leone

By Massimo Leone

The best way humans swap and signify their religious evolution is usually decided through recurrent language buildings. throughout the research of old and glossy tales and their phrases and pictures, this e-book describes the character of conversion via explorations of the stumble upon with the spiritual message, the ache of religious uncertainty, the lack of own and social id, the nervousness of destabilization, the reconstitution of the self and the invention of a brand new language of the soul.

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Both legends focus on the supernatural powers of the Christian word (in these miracles, it is the written word), which overcomes the hostility of the devil and the handicaps of the body. Around 1640, Mattia Preti, a ¢ne seventeenth-century Italian painter,65 painted an image whose subject art historians and iconologists have found quite di¤cult to identify; it represents an obscure but signi¢cant episode of Saint John Chrystostom's life. According to a medieval legend, which was popularized in sixteenth-century protestant Germany (perhaps also with disparaging purposes), John Chrysostom had chosen to live in the desert as a beast, walking on all fours and bearing an iron chain around his neck, in order to do penance for a crime that he had committed in his youth.

It transpired that the reason for their disappearance was that one of them was very ill, and even in danger of death. 82 Fearing the sudden death of the `in¢del', the Saint asked the Roman Cardinal Saracino for the permission to baptize the dying youth, but he had to renounce this, because of strong opposition from the Jewish boy's family. Finally, Saint Philip decided that he would obtain the conversion of the young man by saving his life through prayer. In fact, the Jew survived and converted to Christianity.

In fact, the Jew survived and converted to Christianity. This story contains several interesting elements about the relation between preaching and conversion in early-modern Rome: ¢rst, it shows that preaching could stimulate an interest in Catholicism, but it did not always provoke conversion. The real turning point in the life of the young Jew was represented by his miraculous survival. The healing power of a preacher was still more e¡ective than his rhetorical power. Second, the sensibility of the modern reader is inevitably shocked by the violence perpetrated by the Catholics against the integrity of another religious community, violence which is even more evident in other testimonies included in the dossier; for example, in the document where Agostino Boncompagni recounts the conversion of his mother from Judaism to Catholicism (Incisa della Rocchetta and Vian 1957, 268^70, 19 October 1600, ¡.

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