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Cultures in Conflict

Religion, History and Gender in Northern Europe c. 1800–2000

Edited By Alexander Maurits, Johannes Ljungberg and Erik Sidenvall

This book includes studies of main conflict areas in modern Western societies where religion has been a central element, ranging from popular movements and narratives of opposition to challenges of religious satire and anti-clerical critique. Special attention is given to matters of politics and gender. With this theme, it provides a useful guide to conflict areas in modern European religious history.

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Olaf Blaschke

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Olaf Blaschke

Types of Pilgrimages in Germany between Early and High-Ultramontanism: The Examples of Trier (1844) and Marpingen (1876)

Abstract: Ultramontanism had a gradual, transforming, impact on Catholicism during the nineteenth century. This article traces its influence through an in-depth study of its multiform impact on pilgrimages. It is argued that ultramontanism contributed to an increasing control of the devout masses, but also that its shifting political ambitions altered the character of pilgrimages.

Introduction

For the debates about the ultramontanization of Catholicism in the course of the nineteenth century the contrast of an early example of pilgrimages and a later case during the heyday of ultramontanism can be revealing. Though similar in social and gender aspects there are differences on the level of organization, inherent ultramontanism and transnational traits. The phenomenon of pilgrimages is approached in three steps. Firstly, the issue should be embedded in the context of scholarly debates concerning German Catholicism in the nineteenth century, secondly a system of in sum fourteen variations of pilgrimages can be unfolded, and finally the two prominent examples of Trier (1844) and Marpingen (1876) should find a place in this framework.

1.Scholarly debates and context

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Pilgrimages have been studied long before the phrase ‘religious turn’ in history was coined and later was also adapted to a ‘religious turn’ in gender history.1 For Germany, the phenomenon is embedded in four major academic contexts: 1) in the 1970s, the social history of religion asked about the social and political function of pilgrimages; 2) in the 1980s the discussion about the modernity of Catholicism was taken up again, although pilgrimages were but a small element of this question; 3) parallel to this the structures of Catholic self-exclusion, among them patterns of self-representation such as pilgrimages, were analysed; and 4) the debate about ultramontanism, of which centralized pilgrimages were a part, was enriched with new perspectives, among them transnational dimensions.

1)Already in the 1970s, the social history of religion discovered pilgrimages as a calculated strategy of clerical circles. Sociologists and socal historians wondered: how did Church authorities organize the people’s piety, including pilgrimages? In the language of the 1970s it was all a matter of how to legitimize ecclesiastical power and how to manipulate the Catholic flocks in the nineteenth century. The important contributions of Wolfgang Schieder in 1974 and Michael N. Ebertz in 1979 emphasized the ‘targeted calculation’ of clerics directed at social mechanisms which dramatized the extraordinary.2

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2)The late 1980s established the second important context of discussion. It touched upon the modernity and anti-modernity of Catholicism. While some historians emphasized the hostility of Catholicism against modern times, among them Hans-Ulrich Wehler in 1987, others triggered a vivid discussion about the ambivalence between modernity and anti-modernity.3 Most prominent for this question were Thomas Nipperdey in 1988, Wilfried Loth in 1990, and Urs Altermatt in 1989 for Switzerland.4 They agreed that Catholics were very protective against modern challenges and distrusted modern times. In his encyclical ‘Mirari Vos’ Gregory XVI in 1832 condemned contemporary liberalism and religious indifferentism. Ultramontane Catholicism was anti-modern through and through but at the same time it used modern means to reach its anti-modern goals. Pilgrimages were seen as one marginal contribution and one manifestation of this attitude. They were ambivalent too. On the one side they revitalized traditional and pre-modern practices, on the other side they served as a modern instrument in the hands of the hierarchy fulfilling anti-modern purposes. Pilgrimages were important for those who could afford to join them and for the merchants in the places the pilgrims visited. But those who focus on the relevance of pilgrimges should at the same time realize that other things were of higher relevance. Much more important than organized pilgrimages, comprising many more people for many more years, were general assemblies, which happened regulary in Germany from 1848, furthermore political parties and exclusive associations for Catholics, Catholic newspapers and bookshops, missionary crusades, not forgetting the uniformization of Marian devotions. Pilgrimages requiring a long journey were usually an activity people undertook once in a lifetime, whereas the participation in Catholic associations could happen weekly, the consumption of Catholic newspapers even daily. The minor relevance of pilgrimages –though certainly of huge importance for places of pilgrimage like Santiago de Compostela or Lourdes –has to be seen in relation to the general picture and other sorts of commitment of and influence on Catholics.5

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3)These strategies to erect a Catholic micro-cosmos seemed not to be really suitable for integrating Catholics into civil Protestant and secular society; on the contrary, they were aiming to separate them from the majority, especially in countries where Catholics formed a minority as in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and thus tended to establish a parallel society, a milieu of its own. Catholic parties and Catholic trade unions, Catholic forms of piety –and among them organized pilgrimages –served as tools to protect the believers against the impositions of modernity. They had the effect of social disintegration, and in the end they even led Catholics to build a milieu; in Switzerland they talk about sub-society, while in Austria the key-word is camp and in the Netherlands it is pillar and pillarization, a phenomenon also observed in Belgium where three pillars (Catholics, Socialist, liberal bourgeoisie) bore up the house of the nation. This phase of social and anti-modern disintegration ranged from the 1850s to the 1960s, when the pillars started to tumble and the milieus eroded rapidly. The debate about the fatal political effects of milieus in Germany, unable to find a compromise in the Weimar Republic, was triggered off by a now classical article, written by the sociologist M. Rainer Lepsius in 1966.6

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4)The three debates mentioned –about mass-manipulating priests, about modernity, and patterns of milieu inclusion and exclusion –were always closely linked with the ongoing debate about the nature of ultramontanism. After the eighteenth century this term came in use to describe those Catholics north of the Alps who were loyal to the Pope in Rome beyond the Alps (ultra montes). The pope who nourished ultramontanism and anti-liberalism was Gregory XVI (1831−1846), paving the way for the most prominent ultramontane pope, his successor Pius IX (1846–1878). The term ultramontanism was first an ascription used by those who were against the authoritarian developments, but since the mid-nineteenth century it was also proudly employed by Catholics in order to emphasize their allegiance to Rome, especially since the risorgimento, the Italian movement to unite the nation and to decimate the Papal States, which succeeded in 1861 and made Rome the capital of Italy in 1871. At the same time ultramontanism reached its boiling point when in 1870 to the first Vatican Council dogmatized the infallibility of the pope. In addition, the hierarchical aspect ultra-montanism included an ideological component (against the dominance of the modern state and of liberalism), a strong culture of homogenized piety (Heart-of-Jesus cult, pilgrimages), and finally an organizational dimension (tightening the structures of the Church and its mechanism of control; Catholic associations and media).7

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Like other concepts of the saddle time (Reinhart Koselleck’s ‘Sattelzeit’), the term and the phenomenon of ultramontanism was contested from its very beginnings. Liberals identified all Catholics with sweeping stereotypes, insinuating that their capital was Rome instead of Berlin or Paris. They suspected Catholics of trying to lead society back into the Middle Ages. The concept of ultramontanism remained contested in the twentieth century: Scholarly controversies find their starting point in the book of Hans Buchheim, who in 1963 claimed ultramontanism to be the pioneer of Christian democracy. In 1991 Christoph Weber prominently refuted the ultramontane potential for democracy and even argued that ultramontanism was nothing other than fundamentalism. Recent debates have a rather transnational perspective and take up the question of whether ultramontanism come from the periphery or whether it was a clever strategy originating in Rome –or whether this vertical perspective should rather be complemented with a transnational perspective taking into account border-crossing circulations of ideas.8 Taking the examples of pilgrimages for the purpose of understanding ultramontanism better, it is suitable to present the two most prominent cases of mass pilgrimages in Germany: the eminent example of the Holy Robe in Trier in 1844 and the case of Marpingen in 1876, located about 50 kilometres south-east of Trier.

Both situations have been very well analysed by specialists interested in pilgrimages. This does not mean that there were no other locations –on the contrary, there were thousands of them in Germany and other European countries. Most historians focus on the three ‘peregrinationes maiores’, Rome, Jerusalem, and Santiago de Compostela, but also on other highlights like Fátima and Lourdes.

2.A typology of pilgrimages

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It is possible and useful, though the simple amount of pilgrim places remains unclear, to approach the field in a systematic way. Based on the criteria of the content of pilgrim places, three categories are usually distinguished: Mary, Holy Cross and others. For our purpose another systematic approach seems more appropriate, because we wonder what was modern about pilgrimages in the nineteenth century. If we, accordingly, try to classify forms of nineteenth-century pilgrimages, in the end we might distinguish 14 different variations of them, and then we might see whether and where our examples fit in. We can distinguish individual pilgrimages, group and mass pilgrimages. None of these phenomena was new or genuinely modern. Mass pilgrimages already occurred in medieval times.9 The first pilgrimage to the Holy Robe in Trier in 1512 attracted 110,000 pilgrims in 23 days. For pre-modern times –given the low population of Europe and the complicated circumstances for long-distance pilgrimages –these numbers are enormous. The participants had to be able to afford such a long journey. In the nineteenth century, not only bishops, priests and aristocrats could join an extensive pilgrimage. Mass pilgrimages were becoming a phenomenon of the lower classes.10

Furthermore, we should separate unorganized pilgrimages from those meticulously organized by the Church. Still, in the case of group and mass pilgrimages, many –families for example –kept making their way autonomously. Even mass pilgrimages consisted of uncontrolled numbers of people independent from Church leadership and from clerical control, as we shall see later. The organization of pilgrimages could be centrally managed by the heads of a diocese, or the organization was de centralized, in the periphery of a parish Church. So far we have seven variations of pilgrimages: individual (1), group not organized (2), group organized de-centralized (3) and centralized (4), masses not organized (5), organized de-centralized (6) and centralized (7). Since all of these seven variations could be judged and can be judged as pre-modern, archaic, traditional practices and at the same time as renewed and modern ways to articulate piety, and as in fact we find traditional and modern ways of individual and group pilgrimages, in the end we have fourteen variations (7x2) of pilgrimages as can easily be recognized at the bottom of the graph on the next page. Some individuals, for example, arrived at the pilgrim place on foot in the traditional way people have done for hundreds of years, while others combined a comfortable journey by train with the pleasures of modern tourism. Given that there were always mixtures of modern and pre-modern elements, we should even add a further seven variations, but the scheme tries to draw ideal distinctions.

Every variation was manifest in the nineteenth century and can be distinguished by the form in which people accomplished their journey. Did individuals or groups take the traditional way, by foot or by horse-drawn coach, or did they use modern means of transportation like steamships or trains, buses or cars? One can say that these distinctions are of little importance. If people use telephones or trains they are not modern per se. On the other hand, some

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Table 1: Typology of Pilgrimages.

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Catholic contemporaries were critical that the traditional character of pilgrim journeys was violated. Trains were contested, even though the Church promoted them. The cloister in Einsiedeln (canton Schwyz) could be reached directly by train in the 1870s. Anti-clerical voices in Einsiedeln complained that it is unfair to reduce the tariff for tickets for pilgrims, which was perceived as being against the law.11 Modern means of transportation opened the space for a much wider participation. Were the mass pilgrimages of the nineteenth century a result of modern transportation alone? As we shall see in the example of Trier in 1844, they were not.12 The Trier pilgrimage was modern because the flow of pilgrims was perfectly organized top-down, and all that without railways, all that in the early nineteenth and not the late nineteenth century. Marpingen, on the contrary, in the last quarter of the century, was more of a bottom-up phenomenon, fairly chaotic and hard to control by clerics. But it still was a manifestation of ultramontane traits and hopes.

3.Trier 1844 and Marpingen 1876

Among thousands of more or less prominent pilgrim places in Germany none was so vehemently brought into focus as Trier in 1844 and Marpingen in 1876. Both events offer the chance to illustrate the patterns about pilgrimages in the nineteenth century and allow us to draw conclusions of the questions concerning pilgrimages in the context of the social history of religion, the modernity and milieu structures of Catholicism and the nature of ultramontanism.

1)Trier 1844

In 1844, there was no ralilway station in Trier, located on the river Mosel and close to the border of Luxembourg. People had to come either –if they could afford it –by steamship from the city of Koblenz, where the Mosel meets the Rhine, or by carriage, or, as most of them did, on foot.13 The first train in Germany went from Nuremberg to Fürth in 1835. Trier was only connected to the railway network heading south towards Saarbrücken in the year 1860, to Luxembourg in 1861, to Cologne in 1875, the line leading to Koblenz just under construction. Coming to Trier for the first two mass pilgrimages in 1810 and 1844 was nearly as exhausting as in the preceding 2000 years, while for the third mass pilgrimages in 1891 Trier could be comfortably reached by train.14

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The Holy Robe in Trier represents the tunic Jesus Christ wore on his last day (John 19, 23–24), and the legend from the twelfth century says that it was brought from Palestine around the year 327 or 328 by Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Alongside the shroud in Turin, the Robe is one of the most important relics of Christianity. It was exposed publicly for the first time in 1512, and, in order to commemorate this, for the last time 500 years later in 2012. The year 1810 was the first time in 155 years that the Robe was shown again. The occasion was that the Robe came back to Trier in 1810 after having been protected against French revolutionary troops and hidden in Bamberg and Augsburg. The pilgrimage, well organized by Bishop Charles Mannay (1802–1816), attracted about 100,000 believers and demonstrated the capacity to reorganize the Church, whose aristocratic character was smashed in the secularization.

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The great sensation happened in 1844. It turned out to be the biggest mass event in pre-revolutionary Germany. Every day, thousands of pilgrims passed through the Cathedral in order to see the Holy Robe. Under the conditions of restoration and censorship it was not easy to bring together any crowd of people. The other and more famous mass event of the period was the Hambach Festival in 1832, when about 30,000 people in the Palatinate demonstrated for more freedom and a united Germany, and for a united Europe against the ruling aristocracy. In the light of this oppositional event it was important for any mass gathering to avoid a similar impression. Nevertheless, a dozen years later, the mass meeting in Trier was allowed by the authorities and was able to mobilize more than twenty times as many participants as the Hambach Festival. Contemporary statistics counted over one million people in only seven weeks, while careful estimations of the 1970s claim about half a million people because some of them might have gone into the Cathedral twice so they were counted twice,15 though it was strictly forbidden to come more than once, and the priests led their people straight out of the church to another church and back home. Recent studies estimate between one million and more than 500,000 pilgrims, so that something like the number of 700,000 seems quite plausible.16 While in 1810 about 100,000 people were mobilized, with a daily average of more than 10,530, in 1844 the daily average amounts to 14,000. This daily flood of pious people was nearly equal to the population of the city of Trier which had 15,064 inhabitants (incorparating the outskirts and villages it counted 25,000 inhabitants).

Bishop Wilhelm Arnoldi (1842–1864) planned the event meticulously with the organizational talent of his general vicar Johann Georg Müller and the intellectual support of Jakob Marx, professor of theology in Trier.17 Their blueprint was the pilgrimage of 1810. Both cases choreographed pilgrimages from above. Before that, in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, pilgrimages were primarily organized by religious fraternities, not by the Church itself. This changed dramatically in the early nineteenth century, and the events of 1810 and 1844 opened the door for the Church hierarchy to exert a concerted influence on the masses, an influence they scarcely enjoyed before.18 In the preparatory phase of organizing the pilgrimage, Arnoldi used a newspaper in Luxembourg to campaign for the pilgrimage, because the Prussian censorship was quite restrictive. Arnoldi himself was even behind the foundation of this newspaper, the Luxemburger Zeitung, in July 1844.19 Each mass pilgrimage was accompanied by written and iconic propaganda from both sides: the Church and its opponents.20

The famous image painted in 1847 by August Gustav Lasinsky shows pilgrims within reach of Trier but does not reveal that nearly 60 per cent of the pilgrims in the nineteenth century were women.21 The feminization of piety is widely discussed in the literature. In this picture, though, the relationship between male and female is 50:50.22

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Fig. 1: Wallfahrt zum Heiligen Rock im Jahr 1844, Painting by August Gustav Lasinsky, 1847.

Source: Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Trier im Simeonstift.

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How did Arnoldi channel the masses to Trier? Everything was exactly planned, the project a logistic masterpiece. First, the Catholics from Trier, parish after parish, were allowed to see the relic when the exposition started on 18 August 1844. Then the parishes in each deanery of the diocese were allowed to come, on two different days remote from each other. They had to register in advance and received some sort of ticket. They arrived, always under the tutelage of a priest, at certain meeting points in Trier, had to walk a prescribed way to the Cathedral and, passing the Robe, out of the Cathedral and out of town back home.23 The exposition ended on 6 October 1844.

The enlightened absolutistic state saw pilgrimages as a waste of time. Pilgrims were widely banned and then again suppressed in the 1820s and 1830s. During the restoration after 1815 the dukes of the states were sceptical about crowds of people. Even the bishops raised in the enlightened times were afraid of euphemistic pietists out of control. Arnoldi’s predecessor, Bishop Joseph Hommer (1824–1836), tried to prevent Catholics from wild pilgrimages. The Archbishop of Cologne, August Graf von Spiegel, had warned his flock in a pastoral letter in 1826 against neglecting their work duties. He forbade pilgrimages which took several days.24 Also the bishop of Münster prohibited pilgrimages in 1826. Moral and economic arguments from the eighteenth century were accompanied in the early nineteenth century by anti-revolutionary political arguments. The result was that in fact the Rhine area experienced a decrease in pilgrimages between 1826 and 1835.25 When Bishop Arnoldi in 1844 initiated the pilgrimage, he made a complete U-turn against the policy of his predecessors and counterparts. He felt the need of the believers but wanted to take personal control of the situation. Arnoldi discussed the re-vitalization of the Trier pilgrimage personally with Klemens Wenzel Lothar von Metternich in 1842 and had to ask the president of the Prussian Rhine province for permission.26 From his ultramontane position and in the context of states trying to bring the Church under tutelage, Arnoldi wanted to show the state the autonomy of the Church, which had no intention of any revolt against the state but to cooperate with it on equal terms.

For liberals, the whole theatre was archaic, a giant leap back into medieval times. They mocked the superstition of stupid Catholics going on a pilgrimage and adoring an old undergarment. The historian Heinrich von Sybel amused himself at the expense of the Holy Robe in Trier and the other twenty Holy Robes –in Galatia, Safed and Jerusalem, Argenteuil, Lateran, Bremen and Loccum, Stantiago, Ovideo, Westminster and Mainz, Gent, Flines, Corbie and Tournus, Cologne, Frankfurt, Friaul and Thiers, Constantinople, Georgia and

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Fig. 2: The other twenty Holy Robes, according to the table of contents of Johann Gildemeister /Heinrich von Sybel, Der heilige Rock zu Trier und die zwanzig andern heiligen ungenähten Röcke: Eine historische Untersuchung, Düsseldorf 1844.

Moscow.27 In a caricature from 1844 Rome is the spider in the ultramontane web thrown over Europe. It is all about profit, gained from naive and uneducated poor people who are blind marionettes in the hands of the priests.

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Fig. 3: Der Heilige Rock zu Trier (1844).

Source: Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, image no. 30028996.

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Was the mass event of 1844 a manifestation of the growing piety of the people, an indicator for the religious renaissance of the early nineteenth century? Or can the mass pilgrimage be considered as opposing the Prussian police state, as Joseph Görres interpreted it already in 1845?28 Or was it rather a sign of the alliance between altar and throne in times of monarchical restoration? This was the heated debate that broke out in the 1970s between Wolfgang Schieder and Rudolf Lill. Schieder, a social historian at the University of Trier, did not want to view the event in the traditional line of interpretation as an expression of religious custom, old or renewed. The mass event was not spontaneous but thoroughly organized with certain interests of the Church hierarchy. For Schieder, it was more than an instrument for inner-ecclesiastical renewal but rather a calculated political demonstration of the Church, representing itself as a bulwark against revolutions. It was the staging of the revolutionary slogan liberté, égalité, fraternité but with a counterrevolutionary intention. Liberté for the Church confronted with the state, fraternité among the priests and the pilgrims, and égalité, suggesting a prevailing harmony of different classes, genders and generations united before the Holy Robe, as the painting of Lasinsky illustrated impressively. The fact is, not all the classes were there. The unity that Görres tried to demonstrate in 1845 was incomplete. The pilgrims were mostly poor, stemming from the lower classes, more women than men, accompanied by some bishops, plenty of priests and some noble women and men, while the educated bourgeoisie was largely missing. The ultramontane unity was only simulated. Schieder emphasizes that the notion of égalité was mere propaganda. In the end, the event of 1844 deepened the ultramontane connection between Catholics, priests and bishops on a very hierarchical level.29

Rudolf Lill, by this time professor of history in Cologne, reacted rigorously. He accused Schieder of having made many mistakes and of being no real expert.30 Schieder concentrated on ‘peripheral aspects’ of the pilgrimages, ignoring the religious and emotional dimension of the issue, an image which has been fostered during the Enlightenment. Bishops did not manipulate pilgrimages, Lill insinuated, on the contrary, they have suppressed pilgrimages in the years before 1844. And why did they suppress them? Because they knew of the emotional need of the believers. The growing ultramontanism and awakening devoutness were more important than social-historical facts. The religious inclination of the people was the ‘primary motivation’ of the pilgrims, 31

In recent decades, scholars have tended to see both sides, the manipulative and the religious, the social and the pious. But in the 1970s the social approach was still too new for many historians.32 The next pilgrimage in 1891 under

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Fig. 4: Souvernir Plate, 1891, from Villeroy Boch

Bishop Felix Korum (1881–1921) was a political demonstration against trade unions and socialism. As in the case of 1844, we find pictural manifestations of both interpretations, affirmative and critical: the pious side of the 1891 pilgrimage is manifest in the souvenir plate. In contrast to this the image, ‘Auf nach Trier’ in the Kladderadatsch dwells on the topos of ecclesiastical materialism and people’s stupidity. The priests are luring the masses to Trier, while, as the poem says, the offertory box is filled with more and more money from dull believers. The other caricature about the ‘Gimpelfang’, a few weeks later, plays with the same motive but this time the hotels and taverns are those who make the profit. The bullfinch (Gimpel) was easy to catch and had the reputation of being naive. The bird Gimpel in German is also called Dompfaff, which means priest of a cathedral. Both caricatures have this reproach of materialism in common and both show very disciplined mass movements towards Trier.

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Fig. 5: Franz A. Jüttner & Gustav Brandt, ‘Auf nach Trier’, in Kladderadatsch, 44, No. 30, 26. 7. 1891, p. 120

After the end of the culture war and after the revocation of the anti-Socialist laws in 1890, this pilgrimage of 1891 was a signal for Catholic workers to stay loyal to the Church instead of joining the Socialist Party. So, each pilgrimage had its core function besides the mere religious one. In 1891 again, they used the organizational concept of the previous pilgrimage of 1844, with a scheme for each parish and with prescribed ways to enter and to leave Trier. People could come by train now. No wonder that the numbers grew from 700,000 to 1.9 million.33

The graph of pilgrims to the Holy Robe in Trier 1810–2012 shows the total number of visitors (indicated on the left side) and the daily average (on the right). The all-time record of visitors was achieved in July 1933. After this, the attraction of this sort of event declined. Each pilgrimage had a slightly different

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Fig. 6: Franz A. Jüttner (1865−1926): ‘Der große Gimpelfang in Trier’, in Kladderadatsch, 44, No. 33, Beiblatt, 16. 8. 1891.

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Table 2: Pilgrims to the Holy Robe in Trier 1810−2012.

content because of its different historical contexts. The number of visitors depended only partly upon the transport possibilities at the time. The decline in the number of visitors in 1959 is therefore all the more conspicuous, since it was so much easier to reach Trier than in 1844, now also with one’s own car, but nevertheless the numbers kept falling and falling. Even the length of time this pilgrimage of 1959 was open –a record of two months –did not help. Once again: pilgrimages are not a matter of modern vehicles and not a result of modern means of transport. Finally, in 2012, less than a third of the number of people of 1959 made their way to Trier.

Parallel to the enormous rise of total numbers of visitors from 1810 to 1933, the average number of daily visitors increased, from over ten thousand in 1810 to about 43,000 in the first months of Adolf Hitler’s regime. Then they fell after World War II. In 2012 only 18,000 people arrived per day. The average-per-day curve is important because the pilgrim events comprised different lengths of time and it would be unfair to compare the 19 days of 1810 with the 44 days of 1844 and the 64 days of 1959. Nevertheless, the form of both curves –total and daily –is that of a parabola, and the curve covers the space from approximately the beginning to the end of the second confessional era and the age of Marian devotion.34 The next example is clearly located in this Marian context.

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2)Marpingen 1876

Marpingen was a small village of 1,600 inhabitants in the middle of the 1870s, located close to the French border, about 25 kilometres north of Saarbücken and twice as far away from its episcopal city of Trier in the north-west. The definitive book about Marpingen, by David Blackbourn, appeared in 1993. Everything we ever wanted to know about Marpingen can be found there, but twenty-five years ago historians did not explicitly ask transnational questions.35

What happened at dusk on 3 July 1876 in the forest east of Marpingen? Three girls thought they saw a woman in white. After returning to the village, they shared their experience. Communication with female adults encouraged them to believe it was the Virgin Mary. After that, Mary appeared frequently to them and miraculous cures happened. Within days, Catholics from neighbouring locations were informed, pilgrims from the Saarland and from places much further away visited Marpingen. They came with their sick people in carts, hoping for grace and cure. Some spoke of 20,000 people in the first week, exceeding the numbers at Lourdes in 1876. It took a few days before the authorities became aware that it was time to react. Ten days after the first apparition, armed infantry invaded the village, expelling the pilgrims by force. But Mary and the pilgrims were unstoppable. The parish priest Jakob Neureuter was under great stress because he remained sceptical about the authenticity of the apparitions. They needed to be approved by the authority, but there was no bishop in the diocese in those years because of the culture war. Catholic and liberal newspapers in all Germany reported the events from different angles.

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Fig. 7: Marpingen and Trier in Stieler’s Karte von Deutschland in 25 Blatt, Gotha 1875.

The parish priest and several villagers were arrested and put on trial for fraud and breaching public peace, while the three girls who started it all were subjected to intense interrogations. Nevertheless, the events extended into the next year. July and August of 1877 saw between 600 and 1,200 believers daily taking communion in the parish church. Finally, the apparitions stopped on 3 September 1877.

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While Lourdes had been the blueprint for Marian apparitions since 1858, Marpingen tried to become the ‘German Lourdes’.36 Because the French events were a big topic in the media during these years, especially since the first organized German pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1875, France offered a role model for later events. The reference to Lourdes is a transnational aspect of the story. Marpingen was deeply immersed in Marian adoration, and the girls were familiar with the transnational text Lourdes had presented. People did not need to be in Lourdes personally but of course there were border-crossing movements. National pilgrimages to Lourdes, often on special trains, were organized from Belgium in 1873, from Poland, Italy, and Germany in 1875, from Spain and Ireland in 1876. When a statue in honour of the Virgin was consecrated, 100,000 Catholics were present in Lourdes, among them 35 bishops and 5,000 priests. This event happened on 3 July 1876 –on the very same day when, 894 kilometres away from Lourdes as the crow flies, three girls in the Härtel forest had a vision of a white figure in the early evening.

The second transnational aspect is that Marpingen happened at the peak of Marian apparitions in Europe, not as a local endemic phenomena but as a European tendency. A first wave started in the wake of the French Revolution, especially in the Vendée, followed by a set of weeping statues in Italy. A second wave happened during the pre-revolutionary times before 1848, but the strongest wave occurred during the Italian and German unification wars in the decade between 1866 and 1877. Mary appeared in times of crisis –just as she did later on in the Cold War.37

The third transnational dimension, ultramontanism, went along with the standardization of orthodoxy and orthodox practices. Ultramontanism was clearly a global movement, where the interest of Roman centralization met the needs for orientation among the Catholic flock.38

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Table 3: Marian Apparitions in Europe 1803−1917.

If we compare the pilgrimage to Trier in 1844 with the event in 1876/1877, three aspects are striking. While the pilgrimage to the Holy Robe in Trier in 1844 fits very well into the scheme, representing the type of strictly organized mass pilgrimage, Marpingen is about the opposite. It belongs to several types of individual and not organized group pilgrimages. The events were never approved by Church authorities, thus the conflux of pilgrims never was operated centrally. Single persons and families came, mostly un organized and if organized then never centrally. Marpingen would contradict any teleological idea that the degree of organization was increasing during the nineteenth century.

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The second comparative observation is that the enthusiasm in 1876 displayed even more ultramontane traits than the pilgrimage of Trier in 1844. While Trier exposed the specialty of the Holy Robe, an object nobody else should claim to have, Catholics in Marpingen –the village belonging to the same diocese –shared what Catholics around the world were sharing: Mother Mary. She had gained new prominence since the dogma of 1854, followed by the apparitions in Lourdes in 1858. Marpingen was more ultramontane considering this content but also considering the fact that the pilgrims had already inherited ultramontane values. They came on their own initiative and did not need to wait for a bishop to centrally orchestrate a mass maneuvre. Anyway, there was no bishop in Trier between 1876 and 1881. Other characteristics of the events in Marpingen underline the ultramontane traits. As in Trier thirty-two years before, it was mainly women who were involved and mainly poor, uneducated people. Marpingen’s farmers were poor ‘goat peasants’, and the pilgrims flooding Marpingen represented a low social image. Again, the bourgeoisie was missing, though there were some prominent aristocrats like the mother of the Bavarian King.

The third aspect refers again to the transnational dimension of Marpingen. Globalization had been gaining momentum since the 1840s. The events of Trier in 1844 were observed in the newspapers in France, Belgium and even Ireland. They shared a transnational component.39 But only a few pilgrims from other countries could join the pilgrimage, most of them from Luxembourg. Marpingen was different. It manifested many transnational traits and allowed people even from Spain and Mexico to come to this tiny village in the Saar region.

Conclusion

In the nineteenth century, pilgrimages as such were by no means modern. Parts of what made them modern in the nineteenth century, for instance mass transportation, were not essential characteristics or motivitations. What added a modern aspect to them was a centralized ecclesiastical organization, as had already happened in 1810 and most saliently in 1844 in Trier. But mass pilgrimages continued without being centrally organized. Marpingen in 1876 is one such example of ‘wild’ mass pilgrimage. The apparitions were never approved by the Church, the events were never centrally organized, but the attraction still lured thousands into this remote village. What we might call modern means of anti-modernity in pilgrimages are not the pilgrimage and not the masses, but rather the disciplined organization and control over the masses.

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Ultramontanism changed its character, as the comparison between an early event of 1844 and those in the 1870s and 1890s reveals. Early ultramontanism in 1844 still tried to establish harmony between state and Church, while ultramontanism in the second half of the nineteenth century was increasingly involved in conflicts with the state during the culture wars. Pilgrims participated in each of these phases. After generations ultramontanism took deep root in the hearts even of the remotest Catholics in the remotest villages in Saarland.

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1Sue Morgan, Women, Gender and Religious Cultures in Britain, London 2010, p. 2, quoted in Linda Woodhead, ‘Wie der Feminismus die Religionsforschung revolutioniert hat’, in Kornelia Sammet, Friederike Benthaus-Apel & Christel Gärtner (eds), Religion und Geschlechterordnungen, Frankfurt 2017, pp. 37−48, 40.

2Wolfgang Schieder, ‘Kirche und Revolution: Sozialgeschichtliche Aspekte der Trierer Wallfahrt von 1844’, in AfS, Vol. 14, 1974, pp. 419−454; Michael N. Ebertz, ‘Die Organisierung der Massenreligiosität: Soziologische Aspekte der Frömmigkeitsforschung’, in JVK, Jg. 2, 1979, pp. 38−72; Volker Speth, Katholische Aufklärung, Volksfrömmigkeit und ”Religionspolicey”: Das rheinische Wallfahrtswesen von 1816 bis 1826 und die Entstehungsgeschichte des Wallfahrtsverbots von 1826. Ein Beitrag zur aufklärerischen Volksfrömmigkeitsreform, Diss., Frankfurt 2008, pp. 13−32; Volker Speth, Katholische Aufklärung und Ultramontanismus, Religionspolizey und Kultfreiheit, Volkseigensinn und Volksfrömmigkeitsformierung: Das rheinische Wallfahrtswesen von 1826 bis 1870. Teil 2: Die staatliche Wallfahrtspolizey im nördlichen Rheinland, Frankfurt am Main 2011; Gottfried Korff, ‘Formierung der Frömmigkeit: Zur sozialpolitischen Intention der Trierer Rockwallfahrten 1891’, in Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 3 Jg. 1977, Heft 3, pp. 352−383; Gottfried Korff, ‘Zwischen Sinnlichkeit und Kirchlichkeit: Zum Wandel populärer Frömmigkeit im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert’, in Jutta Held (ed.), Kultur zwischen Bürgertum und Volk, Berlin 1983, pp. 136−148.

3Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, Vol. 1: Vom Feudalismus des Alten Reiches bis zur Defensiven Modernisierung der Reformära 1700–1815, München 1987; Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, Vol. 2: Von der Reformära bis zur industriellen und politischen ‘Deutschen Doppelrevolution’ 1815–1845/49, München 1987.

4Thomas Nipperdey, Religion im Umbruch: Deutschland 1870–1918, München 1988; Wilfried Loth, ‘Der Katholizismus –eine globale Bewegung gegen die Moderne?’, in Heiner Ludwig & Wolfgang Schroeder (eds), Sozial-und Linkskatholizismus: Erinnerung, Orientierung, Befreiung, Frankfurt 1990, pp. 11−31; Urs Altermatt, Katholizismus und Moderne: Zur Sozial-und Mentalitätsgeschichte der Schweizer Katholikem im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, Zürich 1989, p. 236.

5Roberto di Stefano & Francisco Javier Ramón Solans (eds), Marian Devotions, Political Mobilization, and Nationalism in Europe and America, Houndmills 2016.

6M. Rainer Lepsius, ‘Parteiensystem und Sozialstruktur: zum Problem der Demokratisierung der deutschen Gesellschaft [1966]’, in M. Rainer Lepsius, Demokratie in Deutschland: Soziologisch-historische Konstellationsanalysen, Göttingen 1993, pp. 25−50; ‘Arbeitskreis für kirchliche Zeitgeschichte (AKKZG), Münster, Katholiken zwischen Tradition und Moderne. Das katholische Milieu als Forschungsaufgabe’, in WZ 43 (1993), pp. 588−654; Olaf Blaschke & Frank-Michael Kuhlemann (eds), Religion im Kaiserreich: Milieus, Mentalitäten, Krisen (= Religiöse Kulturen der Moderne Vol. 2), Gütersloh 1996; 2. Ed. 2000; Wilfried Loth, ‘Milieus oder Milieu? Konzeptionelle Überlegungen zur Katholizismusforschung’, in Othmar Nikola Haberl & Tobias Korenke (eds), Politische Deutungskulturen: FS Karl Rohe, Baden-Baden 1999, pp. 123−136.

7Heribert Raab, ‘Zur Geschichte und Bedeutung des Schlagwortes ”Ultramontanismus” im 18. und frühen 19. Jahrhundert’, in Historisches Jahrbuch der Görres Gesellschaft, 81, 1962, pp. 159−173. Klaus Schatz, ‘Ultramontanismus’, in Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, Bd. 10, Freiburg 2006, pp. 360−362; Victor Conzemius, ‘Rom und nicht nur Rom, Papsttum, Volksfrömmigkeit und Moderne im 19. Jahrhundert’, in Renovatio 52, 1996, pp. 201−207; Victor Conzemius, ‘Ultramontanismus’, in Theologische Realenzyklopädie vol. 34, Tübingen 2002, pp. 253−263. Gisela Fleckenstein & Joachim Schmiedl (eds), Ultramontanismus: Tendenzen der Forschung, Paderborn 2005. Francisco Javier Ramón Solans, ‘Le triomphe du Saint-Siège (1799−1823). Une transition de l’Ancien Régime à l’ultramontanisme?’, in Siècles: Cahiers du Centre d’histoire ‘Espaces et Cultures’, 43, 2016: Transferts culturels et politiques entre révolution et contre-révolution en Europe (1789−1840), p. 1-12: https://journals.openedition.org/siecles/3047. Austin Gough, Paris and Rome: The Gallican Church and the Ultramontane Campaign 1848−1853, Oxford 1986; Olaf Blaschke, ‘Der Aufstieg des Papsttums aus dem Antiklerikalismus: Zur Dialektik von endogenen und exogenen Kräften der transnationalen Ultramontanisierung’, in Römische Quartalschrift für Christliche Altertumskunde und Kirchengeschichte, Bd. 112, 2017, pp. 60−73.

8Karl Buchheim, Ultramontanismus und Demokratie: Der Weg der deutschen Katholiken im 19. Jahrhundert, München 1963, pp. 9, 108; Christoph Weber, ‘Ultramontanismus als katholischer Fundamentalismus’, in Wilfried Loth (ed.), Deutscher Katholizismus im Umbruch zur Moderne, Stuttgart 1991, pp. 9−45; Vincent Viaene, Belgium and the Holy See from Gregory XVI to Pius IX (1831−1859): Catholic Revival, Society and Politics in 19th-century Europe, Leuven 2001; Olaf Blaschke & Francisco Javier Ramón Solans (eds), Weltreligion im Umbruch: Transnationale Perspektiven auf das Christentum in der Globalisierung, Frankfurt 2018. Cf. Fleckenstein & Schmiedl (eds) 2005.

9In the year 1064, between 7,000 and 12,000 believers followed Archbishop Siegfried of Mainz and other bishops on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. RI III,2,3 n. 351, in: Regesta Imperii Online, URI: http://www.regesta-imperii.de/id/1064-11-00_1_0_3_2_3_351_351 (Accessed on 9 June 2017).

10Richard Laufner, ‘Logistische und organisatorische, finanzielle und wirtschaftliche Aspekte bei den Hl-Rock-Wallfahrten 1512 bis 1959’, in Erich Aretz et al. (eds), Der Heilige Rock zu Trier: Studien zur Geschichte und Verehrung der Tunika Christi, Trier 1996 (2. Ed.), pp. 457−481, 458.

11‘Die kirchlichen Wallfahrten –der Staat und die Eisenbahnen’, in Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 18. 8. 1873, quotation from Karin Kälin, Schauplatz katholischer Frömmigkeit: Wallfahrt nach Einsiedeln von 1864 bis 1914, Fribourg 2005, p. 44, 105. Cf. Altermatt 1989, p. 255.

12About the tendencies: Klaus Herbers, ‘Unterwegs zu heiligen Stätten –Pilgerfahrten’, in Hermann Bausinger et al. (eds), Reisekultur: Von der Pilgerfahrt zum modernen Tourismus, München 1999, pp. 23−31.

13Bernhard Schneider, ‘Wallfahrt, Ultramontanismus und Politik: Zu Vorgeschichte und Verlauf der Trierer Hl.-Rock-Wallfahrt von 1844’, in Erich Aretz et al. (eds), Der Heilige Rock zu Trier: Studien zur Geschichte und Verehrung der Tunika Christi, Trier 1995, pp. 237−280, 240; Bernhard Schneider, ‘Die Hl.-Rock-Wallfahrten von 1810 und 1844’, in Bernhard Schneider & Martin Persch (eds), Geschichte des Bistums Trier, Vol. 4: Auf dem Weg in die Moderne 1802–1880, Trier 2000, pp. 567−580; Laufner 1996, p. 468.

14Martin Persch, ‘Die Hl.-Rock-Wallfahrten 1891, 1933 und 1959’, in Bernhard Schneider & Martin Persch (eds), Geschichte des Bistums Trier, Vol. 5: Beharrung und Erneuerung 1881−1982, Trier 2004, pp. 720−730, 724.

15Schieder 1974, p. 421 f. Rudolf Lill, ‘Die Länder des Deutschen Bundes und der Schweiz’, in Roger Aubert et al. (eds), Die Kirche in der Gegenwart. Erster Halbbd.: Die Kirche zwischen Revolution und Restauration (= Hubert Jedin (ed.), Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte, Vol. VI/1), Freiburg 1971 (ND 1985), pp. 392−408; Schneider 1995.

16Schneider 1995, p. 268 f., methodologically holds the counting of 1 million pilgrims plausible, though some went twice into the Cathedral, and comes to the conclusion that there were ‘clearly more than 500,000’.

17About Müller: Laufner 1996, p. 469.

18Schieder 1974, p. 432.

19Schieder 1974, p. 438; Schneider 1995, p. 256; Bernhard Schneider, ‘Presse und Wallfahrt: Die publizistische Verarbeitung der Trierer Hl.-Rock-Wallfahrt von 1844’, in Erich Aretz et al. (eds), Der Heilige Rock zu Trier: Studien zur Geschichte und Verehrung der Tunika Christi, Trier 1996 (2. Ed.), pp. 281−306.

20Georg Patiss, Die Wallfahrten in ihrer providentiellen Bedeutung für unsere Zeit, Mainz 1875; Schneider 1996.

21Wallfahrt zum Heiligen Rock im Jahr 1844, Painting of August Gustav Lasinsky, 1847, Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Trier im Simeonstift, Inventarnr. III, 67; Speth 2011, p. 244 f.

22Bernhard Schneider, ‘Feminisierung der Religion im 19. Jahrhundert: Perspektiven einer These im Kontext des deutschen Katholizismus’, in Trierer Theologische Zeitschrift, Vol. 111, 2002, pp. 123−147; Bernhard Schneider, ‘Feminisierung und (Re-)Maskulinisierung der Religion im 19. Jahrhundert: Tendenzen der Forschung aus der Perspektive des deutschen Katholizismus’, in Michaela Sohn-Kronthaler (ed.), Feminisierung oder (Re-)Maskulinisierung der Religion im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert: Forschungsbeiträge aus Christentum, Judentum und Islam, Wien 2016, pp. 11−41; Olaf Blaschke, ‘The Unrecognised Piety of Men: Strategies and Success of the Remasculinisation Campaign around 1900’, in Yvonne Maria Werner (ed.), Christian Masculinity: Men and Religion in Northern Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Leuven 2011; Norbert Busch, ‘Die Feminisierung der ultramontanen Frömmigkeit’, in Irmtraud Götz von Olenhusen (ed.), Wunderbare Erscheinungen: Frauen und katholische Frömmigkeit im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, Paderborn 1995, pp. 203−220.

23Schieder 1974, p. 444; Laufner 1996.

24Schieder 1974, p. 435; Speth 2011. Cf. Nicole Priesching, Maria von Mörl (1812–1868): Leben und Bedeutung einer ‘stigmatisierten Jungfrau’ aus tirol im Kontext ultramontaner Frömmigkeit, Brixen 2004.

25Schneider 1995, p. 245. Speth 2011, p. 99.

26Schieder 1974, p. 441.

27Johann Gildemeister & Heinrich von Sybel, Der heilige Rock zu Trier und die zwanzig andern heiligen ungenähten Röcke: Eine historische Untersuchung, Düsseldorf 1844; for the confessional context of conflict: Wolfgang Schmid, ‘Die Wallfahrt zum Heiligen Rock (1844) und die evangelischen Gemeinden im Rheinland (Bonn, Koblenz, Trier, Winningen)’, in Rheinische Vierteljahrsblätter, 77 (2013), pp. 86−117. For anti-clericalism in Europe cf. Manuel Borutta, Antikatholizismus: Deutschland und Italien im Zeitalter der europäischen Kulturkämpfe, Göttingen 2010; Lisa Dittrich, Antiklerikalismus in Europa: Öffentlichkeit und Säkularisierung in Frankreich, Spanien und Deutschland (1848–1914), Göttingen 2014; Wolfram Kaiser, ‘“Clericalism –that is our enemy!” European anticlericalism and the culture wars’, in Wolfram Kaiser & Christopher Clark (eds), Culture Wars: Secular-Catholic Conflict in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Cambridge 2003, pp. 47−76.

28Joseph Görres, Die Wallfahrt nach Trier, Regensburg 1845; cf. Jon Vanden Heuvel, A German Life in the Age of Revolution: Joseph Görres, 1776–1848, Washington 2001, pp. 337−339; Schneider 1995, p. 468.

29Schieder 1974, p. 425.

30Rudolf Lill, ‘Kirche und Revolution: zu den Anfängen der katholischen Bewegung im Jahrzehnt vor 1848’, in AfS, Vol. 18, 1978, pp. 565−575, 572, footnote 31, where Lill contrasts Schieder with experts in the field (Fachkreise).

31Lill 1978, p. 568, 572

32Schneider 1995; Andreas Holzem, ‘Religiöse Orientierung und soziale Ordnung: Skizzen zur Wallfahrt als Handlungsfeld und Konfliktraum zwischen Frühneuzeit und Katholischem Milieu’, in Reinhard Blänkner & Bernhard Jussen (eds), Institutionen und Ereignis: Über historische Praktiken und Vorstellungen gesellschaftlichen Ordnens (Veröffentlichungen des Max-Planck-Instituts für Geschichte, Vol. 138), Göttingen 1998, pp. 327−354; Andreas Holzem, Kirchenreform und Sektenstiftung: Deutschkatholiken, Reformkatholiken und Ultramontane am Oberrhein (1844–1866), Paderborn 1994.

33Laufner 1996, pp. 472−474.

34Cf. Olaf Blaschke (ed.), Konfessionen im Konflikt: Deutschland zwischen 1800 und 1970: ein zweites konfessionelles Zeitalter, Göttingen 2002; Olaf Blaschke, ‘Le XIXe siècle: un deuxième âge confessionnel ou un deuxième âge du confessionnalisme?’ in Catherine Maurer (ed.), La coexistence confessionnelle en France et dans les mondes germaniques du Moyen Âge à nos jours, Paris 2015, pp. 301−308; Martin Schulze Wessel, ‘Das 19. Jahrhundert als ”Zweites Konfessionelles Zeitalter”? Thesen zur Religionsgeschichte der böhmischen Länder in europäischer Hinsicht’, in ZS f Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung 50, 2001, pp. 514−530.

35The following is based on David Blackbourn, Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in a Nineteenth-Century German Village, New York 1993; David Blackbourn, Wenn ihr sie wieder seht, fragt wer sie sei: Marienerscheinungen in Marpingen –Aufstieg und Niedergang des deutschen Lourdes, Reinbek 1997. A more sophisticated version of my argument appeared as Olaf Blaschke, ‘Marpingen: A Remote Village and its Virgin in a Transnational Context’, in Roberto di Stefano & Francisco Javier Ramón Solans (eds), Marian Devotions, Political Mobilization, and Nationalism in Europe and America, Houndmills 2016, pp. 83−107.

36Cf. Andreas Johannes Kotulla, ‘Lourdes und die deutschen Katholiken: Über die frühe Rezeption eines katholischen Kultes im Deutschen Kaiserreich und die Anfängeder Wallfahrt bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg’, in Bernhard Schneider (ed.), Maria und Lourdes: Wunder und Marienerscheinungen in theologischer und kulturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive, Münster 2008, pp. 139−165.

37Numbers: Bernhard Schneider, ‘Marienerscheinungen im 19. Jahrhundert: Ein Phänomen und seine Charakteristika’, in Hubert Wolf (ed.), ‘Wahre’ und ‘ falsche’ Heiligkeit: Mystik, Macht und Geschlechterrollen im Katholizismus des 19. Jahrhunderts, München 2013, pp. 87–110, 91, based on: Gottfried Hierzenberger & Otto Nedomansky, Erscheinungen und Botschaften der Gottesmutter Maria: Vollständige Dokumentation durch zwei Jahrtausende, Augsburg 1998 (probably not complete).

38This aspect is about to be analysed in the project ‘Der Ultramontanismus als transnationales und transatlantisches Phänomen 1819–1914’ within the framework of the Exzellenzcluster ‘Religion und Politik’ at the Westfälische-Wilhelms-Universität WWU Münster. Cf. already Vincent Viaene, ‘Nineteenth-Century Catholic Internationalism and its Predecessors’, in Abigail Green & Vincent Viaene (eds), Religious Internationals in the Modern World: Globalization and Faith Communities since 1750, Houndmills 2012, pp. 82−110; Vincent Viaene, ‘International History, Religious History, Catholic History: Perspectives for Cross-Fertilization (1830–1914)’, in EHQ 2008, pp. 578−607. For a transnational approach cf. Thies Schulze (ed.), Grenzüberschreitende Religion: Vergleichs-und Kulturtransferforschung zur neuzeitlichen Geschichte, Göttingen 2012; Klaus Koschorke (ed.), Etappen der Globalisierung in christentumsgeschichtlicher Perspektive/Phases of Globalization in the History of Christianity, Wiesbaden 2012.

39Schneider 1996, p. 281.