BB - Religion

Bibliographie deutschsprachiger Sammelwerke mit christlichen Lebensbildern: Heiligenlegenden, Biographien, Autobiographien, Prosopographien [Bibliography of German-Language Anthologies of Christian Biography: Legends of Saints, Biographies, Autobiographies, Prosopographies]. Sebastian Mayer. München: Meidenbauer, 2011. 391 p. 26 cm. (Forum Theologie, 1). ISBN 978-3-89975- 747-7: EUR 64.90 [12-1]

This work is an annotated listing of 4,006 anthologies containing biographies or biographical summaries of the lives of Christian personalities (including saints, biblical figures, priests, members of religious orders, reformers, and other historical figures important in Catholic and Protestant religious history). The works cited range from the 16th century to the present and include popular collections of saints’ legends as well as other religious collections of a wide variety of types. Standard biographical and theological reference works (such as Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart [Religion Past and Present]) are not considered. The citations appear to contain only information taken from examination of printed bibliographies (for the older popular anthologies) or from research in online catalogs (for recent materials). Only a small portion appears to be from direct examination of the works. The arrangement of the citations is alphabetical by author or editor, with a separate listing for works without an author (with chronological subarrangement). Each entry provides a listing of the biographees’ names (but only when the cited work contains fewer than 50 persons). It is not clear what is the point of this listing or how it can serve as an impetus to further research, since there is no subject access to the citations. An index to the names listed in the entries would have been helpful, but as it stands the work is of little use for reference or research. [sh/jc]

Dizionario ragionato dei santi: 11.811 santi, beati, patroni e protettori da Aaron a Zoe [Systematic Dictionary of the Saints: 11,811 Saints, Beatified, Patron Saints, and Protectors from Aaron to Zoe]. Michele Francipane. Milano: A`ncora editrice, 2011. 1001 p. ill. 21 cm. ISBN 978-88-514-0924-1: EUR 29

Il grande libro dei santi: i santi del calendario: vita, morte e miracoli [The Big Book of Saints: Saints of the Calendar: Life, Death, and Miracles]. Luisa Zerbini. Siena: Lorenzo Barbera editore, 2011. 490 p. ill. 19 cm. (Grandi libri). ISBN 978-88-7899-421-8: EUR 14.90

An RREA Original Review by Rebecca R. Malek-Wiley (Tulane University)

Within the same year, two Italian dictionaries of Christian saints appeared, each one quite different from the other in scope and structure. As its full title implies and its back-cover summary states, Michele Francipane’s Dizionario ragionato dei santi (hereafter Francipane) aims to be a comprehensive, innovatively designed listing of all saints and beatified of the Christian tradition, from all countries and periods through October 2011, within a single volume that is easy to consult. (“Beatified” or “blessed” is a Catholic ranking just below sainthood, including persons whose process of canonization was still open at the time of publication.) Servants of God, venerables, lay apostles, and other non-canonized Catholic notables are not included. Within such a context, this dictionary is remarkably comprehensive, covering saints who lived on all continents (except, naturally, Antarctica) and Oceania, although—not surprisingly—Europe is the best-represented continent.

The brief introduction discusses the work’s scope, underlying research (in primary documents, e.g., liturgical calendars and martyrologies, as well as in numerous standard secondary compilations), and challenges, such as conflict resolution. Next, the reading guide and list of abbreviations and symbols provide additional important information on organization and content, including selection criteria, the treatments of variant name forms, and some finer points on the alphabetical order. The book then consists of three main parts, the first and most detailed being the “Esposizione emerologica” [Hemerology], a day-by-day calendar of saints by feast day, followed by the “Repertorio,” or annotated indexes of names and variants, then the “Protezionario” [List of “Protections”], the sections of which function partly as geographical and thematic indexes.

The primary section (over 600 pages long) is the calendar, which lists numerous saints for each day, with quite brief biographies of the principal ones (typically one paragraph) and information for basic identifications of the others, including birth and death dates; date of canonization (when known) or beatification; hierarchical titles; other status (e.g., martyr, queen, and hermit); gender; nationality; and the category or categories of which the saint is considered a patron or protector. Under each day, saints and beatified persons are listed alphabetically by forename (for example, within 24 March, Salvadoran martyr O´scar Arnúlfo Romero is filed under “Oscar”) and in an Italian form, e.g., Zosimo il Taumaturgo [Zosimus the Miracle Worker]. Names in italics indicate saints who could not be verified with certainty.

Some of this information is also provided in many entries in the “Repertorio” indexes. Each entry of the general name index includes at least the month and day of the saint’s feast day, which is the key for locating the main description in the calendar. In a number of cases (e.g., Vincenza Gerosa), multiple dates are given, with the date of the calendar entry in bold font. This listing typically enters each saint, again, under an Italian form of the forename. Under each letter, the index of variants includes religious, secular, and popular names, as well as forms in different languages, two examples being references from “Giuseppe Kugler” to “Eustachio Kugler” (for the German Hospitaller brother Eustachius Kugler, whose secular forename was Josef ) and from “Michel-Louis” to “Michele Luigi.” Occasionally, entries for variant forms include calendar dates, but more often one must consult the main name index to find the saint’s date before proceeding to the calendar. There are other more general references from one form of a name to an entered form that applies to multiple people.

Perhaps the most distinctive part is the extensive “Protezionario.” While functioning as a means of accessing the calendar, it can also be of considerable interest when searched or browsed on its own. Its section on geographic patronage lists places alphabetically, each with an abbreviation for its country or Italian province (e.g., “Chimay B[elgium]” and “Orvieto TR [Terni]”) and a reference to its patron saint or saints and the associated date or dates. In the widely ranging thematic section on patronage and protection, among the subjects represented are religious and lay orders and associations (e.g., Premostratensi [Premonstratensians] and Associazione nazionale paracadutisti d’Italia [National Association of Parachutists of Italy]); categories of people, e.g., farmers, adolescents, and hypochondriacs; things to be protected, e.g., gardens and libraries; and diseases or dangers from which protection is sought, e.g., fever, hypertension, and wolves. Professions and topics may be modern as well as traditional; for example, ecologists are listed, as are “Informatici” [computer specialists], blood donors, and the Internet. See and see-also references to other names and terms are abundant and usually helpful, including a number from vernacular place-name forms to Italian ones (for example, from “Orkney Islands” to “Orcadi, Isole”). One exception would be the misleading circular see references between “Giornalisti on line” [online journalists] and “Blogger,” along with blind references from each to “Web,” when the relevant entries that actually mention saints are “Giornalisti” and “Internet.”

Appendixes consist of a glossary of specialized, technical, and jargon terms, some associated with individual saints; a supplementary collection of miscellaneous information, including lists of saints in particular categories (for example, child saints and doctors of the Church), the first canonized Benedictine nun, the first Byzantine missionary in Canada, and numerous others; and a selected bibliography, arranged by type of work followed by a title index of works cited in the text. The bibliography appears quite up to date, as it contains more than one 2011 imprint.

A basic understanding of Italian is useful to benefit fully from Francipane’s content; still, someone familiar with any Romance language should not have difficulties, and one can get by to a fair extent on English cognates. Its content goes beyond that of several recent English-language sources, in different respects. The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford, 5th ed. revised 2011), compiled by David Hugh Farmer, which is as current and provides fuller biographical information, only cites 1700 entries; it does have the advantage of being available online. Michael Walsh’s A New Dictionary of Saints: East and West (Collegeville, Minn., 2007) also has longer entries and may be more comprehensive than Francipane for eastern Christianity—for example, it provides several entries for Egyptian Coptic saints under “Shenoudah,” whereas Francipane includes only one (under the spelling “Shenoute”)—but it lacks the calendar and any topical or geographic approach. Comparable to the “Protezionario” section, Thomas J. Craughwell’s This Saint Will Change Your Life: 300 Heavenly Allies for Architects, Athletes, Bloggers, Brides, Librarians, Murderers, Whales, Widows, and You (Philadelphia, 2007) provides similarly entertaining entries but is far more limited in scope.

As Francipane indicates in his introduction, consulting the reading guide and abbreviations list is essential, as the dense text makes heavy use of abbreviations and symbols (in addition to a small font) to keep the book as compact as possible. References within and between different parts of the dictionary abound. On the whole, the rather complex organization works well, despite the odd confusing reference. A digital edition would be very welcome and—if properly designed—might further enhance and simplify access.

Francipane requires something of a learning curve to become adept in its use. Once having caught on, one is rewarded by a massive amount of concise reference information, as well as fascinating historical and cultural tidbits. It can be recommended for all academic collections that support Italian historical and cultural studies, as well as graduate- and upper-undergraduate-level religious studies and European history more broadly.

Luisa Zerbini’s compilation Il grande libro dei santi (hereafter Zerbini) covers a much more selective group of saints, generally one for each day (including 29 February), concentrating on the better-known saints or ones that have inspired noteworthy local popular devotion in Italy while excluding beatified individuals. They range from Old Testament Biblical figures (such as “Sant’Abele” [Saint Abel]) to 20th-century individuals (e.g., “Massimiliano Kolbe,” the Polish friar Maksymilian Maria Kolbe, who died in Auschwitz in 1941). A few exceptional days include two saints, sometimes because they are traditionally linked together (early Christian martyrs Felicity and Perpetua, for example, share 7 March), while 1 November, All Saints’ Day, is kept generic. The compiler is at pains to state that the intent of this dictionary is “informativo e non devozionale” [informative, not devotional] and that it does not claim to be complete—despite the cover subtitle “tutti i santi del calendario” [all the saints of the calendar]. The context repeatedly makes clear that the basis for selection is the Roman Catholic Church.

The introductory matter, in addition to explaining the scope and type of content, includes a brief section with basic information for the benefit of beginners, arranged in the form of five questions and answers. They define criteria for being a saint; explain the process of canonization, patron saints, and the calendar of saints; and provide an estimated total number of about 10,000 saints.

The first chapter is essentially a detailed table of contents, arranged by month and day, with the name of the saint(s) representing each day. It begins with a short list of abbreviations used in this part, just enough to distinguish homonyms and communicate information for basic identification. This chapter is actually more useful than the standard table of contents at the end, which simply lists the saints in order under each month without specifying their exact days.

Chapter two, the main biographical-historical part, consists of entries typically ranging from a header and one paragraph to a full page of text. Each entry, however brief, is assigned its own page. Among the few that extend beyond one page is 23 April, for St. George, partly because its initial section gives a long list of places and categories of occupations of which he is the patron, as well as dangers for which he is invoked as protector. Days with more than one saint include either a single joint biography or two separate pages, depending on whether or not those saints have a biographical (or at least traditional) relationship to each other.

Each entry is headed by the name, in bold font; a brief descriptive term (e.g., gesuita [Jesuit], martire [martyr], and vescovo [bishop]); places and dates of birth and death; and, frequently, additional distinguishing elements, such as the category of patronage attributed to the saint by the Roman Catholic Church. As in Francipane, names are given in direct order under forename, usually in an Italian-language form. Dates are as detailed as possible, with exact days in many cases, years or centuries in others. An unknown date is represented by a question mark. On the other hand, uncertain or controversial dates are not always qualified by even a question mark following the date; for at least one figure, St. Patrick, Zerbini gives without any caveat birth and death dates that are in fact not consistently accepted by scholars, whereas Francipane is more circumspect regarding Patrick’s birthdate, giving a five-year range. Patronage can relate to major cities (for example, Brescia and Syracuse); regions (such as Sardinia); occasional countries (e.g., Lithuania and Sweden); occupational categories (such as electricians, gardeners, and philosophers); or other classes of persons (e.g., African-Americans, automobile drivers, children, and prisoners). The selection of information overall, particularly regarding the cult of each saint, tends to have a strongly Italian slant.

A brief narrative follows on the saint’s life and cult, including iconographic associations; unlike Francipane, the biographies are in complete sentences, and terms abbreviated in the preceding calendar section are spelled out throughout the entries. (The vernacular form of the name sometimes appears in the first sentence; for example, the Dutch saint known in English as Peter Canisius is entered under “Pietro Canisio,” then given in the body of the entry as “Pieter Kanijs.”) While a knowledge of Italian is relevant to benefit fully from the biographies, a non-Italian reader could still use Zerbini for a quick identification of the saint of the day. Entries are generously illustrated, with black-and-white reproductions of paintings, manuscript illuminations, and other art works, primarily though not exclusively portraits (one of the few exceptions is St. Patrick, illustrated by a Celtic cross).

There is a simple name index by saint’s name—with Italian name forms only, not crossreferences— giving the day and month numerically (e.g., “28/11”), but no geographic, class of persons, or topical index. The volume ends with a quite brief bibliography of under two pages.

Compared with Francipane’s Dizionario ragionato dei santi, Zerbini’s Il grande libro dei santi contains much less information, on a far smaller number of saints, with less varied forms of access to that information and a more limited bibliography. Its strengths lie in its more straightforward use—simpler organization and more readable biographies, with considerably less use of abbreviations—as well as its illustrations and references to iconography. Its lower price could make it an option for libraries on tight budgets that want to include a basic Italian-language resource on Roman Catholic saints and their worship in Italy. For a collection supporting any in-depth research in religious studies or in Italian and European history, however, Francipane’s much meatier, if more complex, work would generally be a better investment.

Handbuch der deutschen evangelischen Kirchen 1918 bis 1949: Organe, Ämter, Verbände, Personen [Handbook of German Protestant Churches, 1918-1949: Agencies, Offices, Associations, Persons]. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 24 cm. (Arbeiten zur kirchlichen Zeitgeschichte: Reihe A, Quellen, …). [12-3]
Vol. 1. Überregionale Einrichtungen [Transregional Bodies]. Ed. Heinz Boberach, Carsten Nicolaisen, and Ruth Pabst. 2010. 571 p. (..., 18). ISBN 978-3-525- 55784-6: EUR 89

This handbook provides coverage of more than 800 offices, institutions, and agencies of German Protestantism from 1918 to 1949. The contents are divided into two parts. The first and most-extensive part lists churches and ecclesiastical fellowships, including synodic bodies. For each entity, the structure of church administration, authority, and other associations are listed. The volume includes entries for church aid organizations, confessional fellowships, free-church associations, and the German National Council of Churches [Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchenbund, 1922-1933; today Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland]. A larger section covers missionary agencies, including both foreign and indigenous missions. The second part treats other groups and associations, such as clergy associations, church press agencies, etc. The entries provide a concise historical sketch of each entity as well as listing the persons holding office or belonging to the various agencies and associations.

A comprehensive appendix covers military, prison, and student chaplaincies, as well as Protestant faculty in universities and seminary teachers. A comprehensive index of names and institutions concludes the volume.

This volume provides concentrated access to information on the history of ecclesiastical institutions in Germany that until now was only available in disparate sources. A more detailed table of contents would have been helpful for many lay users. The work will certainly become an indispensable reference tool and stimulus for ecclesiastical-historical research. [mbe/rc]

Abschied von Europa: jüdisches Schreiben zwischen 1930 und 1950 [Departure from Europe: Jewish Writing Between 1930 and 1950]. Ed. Alfred Bodenheimer and Barbara Breysach. München: Edition Text + Kritik, 2011. 235 p. 21 cm. (Schriften der Gesellschaft für Europäisch-Jüdische Literaturstudien, 3. ISBN 978-3-86916-099-3: EUR 24 [12-1]

Founded in 2006, the Gesellschaft für Europäisch-Jüdische Literaturstudien [Society for European-Jewish Literary Studies] has since 2007 been organizing conferences and publishing the presentations. The first conference volumes were concerned with establishing a historical perspective on the relationship of German-Jewish literature to eastern European-Jewish literature (Jüdische Literatur als europäische Literatur: Europäizität und jüdische Identität 1860-1930 [Jewish Literature as European Literature: Europeanness and Jewish Identity, 1860-1930], München, 2008) and with the relationship of contemporary Hebrew literature to Germany (Rück-Blick auf Deutschland: Ansichten hebräischsprachiger Autoren [Looking Back at Germany: Views of Hebrew-Language Authors], München, 2009).

The present volume is devoted to forms and content of the literature connected with Jewish departure from Europe from 1930 to 1950. Despite Zionism and emigration to the USA, Europe remained the predominant point of reference in Jewish literary and political thought, until the aggressive and finally destructive anti-Semitism of the National Socialists made it necessary to consider leaving Europe. Eleven presentations by established researchers and specialists show how individual authors and thinkers dealt with the question in their literary and theoretical works. Their subjects are Joseph Roth, Walter Benjamin, Jenny Aloni, Antoni Slonimski (Poland), Osip Mandelstam (Russia), Russian-Jewish authors and intellectuals in general, Alfred Kazin (USA), Karl Löwith, Hermann Broch, Hilde Spiel, and Erika Mann. The editors gave the presenters a series of questions, which they included in differing degrees. This theme is as varied and individual as are the authors themselves—it has hardly been exhausted. [wub/gph]

Die verschwundenen Musiker: jüdische Flüchtlinge in Australien [The Missing Musicians: Jewish Refugees in Australia]. Albrecht Dümling. Köln: Böhlau, 2011. 444, [16] p. ill. maps. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-412-20666-6: EUR 49.90 [12-2]

This account of the immigration of Austrian and German musicians to Australia around the time of World War II sets the scene by recounting the National Socialist regime’s marginalization and persecution of Jews, the Nazis’ hatred of jazz and their association of Jews with that music, the significance of music to German culture, the difficult and unwelcoming immigration policies of Great Britain and Australia, the challenges of supporting oneself as a professional musician, and Australian public opinion of German racial politics and the arrival of the resulting exiles. The book benefits from numerous heavily documented and highly individual stories of persecution and immigration, including those of Alphons Silbermann, Felix Werder, George Dreyfus, and the Weintraub Syncopators. This work is a good complement to the film historian Kay Weniger’s “Es wird im Leben dir mehr genommen als gegeben ...”, a dictionary of film artists who emigrated from Germany and Austria between 1933 and 1945 (see RREA 17:102).

The organization of the chapters seems unsystematic, although they are roughly in chronological order. The short, helpful biographies in the back of the book would have been better located at the beginning of each relevant chapter. The organization of the endnotes necessitates repeated flipping to the bibliography. The index is useful for locating individual musicians, but does not include jazz musicians, musical groups, conductors, topical information, etc. Nonetheless, the book is a pioneering work on the topic. Because of the abundance of material this work provides, it should be purchased by any library with an interest in the relevant areas: recent music history, Australian cultural history, the Third Reich, Jewish persecution, exile, and World War II. [ar/rg]

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Last update: November 2013 [RT]
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