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Troubled Consciences: New Understandings and Performances of Penance Among Catholics in Protestant England

  • Lisa McClain


Prior to Protestant reforms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Catholic clerics frequently preached about the necessity of confessing one's sins to a priest through the sacrament of penance. After the passage of laws in the 1570s making it a criminal offense to be a Catholic priest in England, Catholics residing in Protestant England possessed limited opportunities to make confession to a priest. Many laypersons feared for their souls. This article examines literature written by English Catholic clerics to comfort such laypersons. These authors re-interpreted traditional Catholic understandings of how sacramental penance delivers grace to allow English Catholics to confess when priests were not present. These authors—clerics themselves—used the printed word to stand in for the usual parish priest to whom a Catholic would confess. They legitimized their efforts by appealing to the church's modus operandi of allowing alternative means to receive grace in cases of extreme emergency. Although suggestions to confess without a priest's mediation sound similar to Protestant views on penitence, these authors' prescriptions differ from Lutheran, Calvinist, Anglican, and post-Tridentine Catholic positions on penance in the Reformation era. Diverse understandings of penitence lay at the heart of confessional divisions, and this article sheds new light on heretofore unexamined English Catholic contributions to these debates, broadening scholars' conceptions of what it meant to be Catholic in Reformation England and Europe.



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1 British Library (hereafter BL), Sloane MS 4035, f. 12.

2 1 Eliz I, c. 2. This law sought to reverse the impacts of attempts to reestablish the institutional and sacramental teachings and structures of the Roman Church along the Tridentine model under Mary I. See Duffy, Eamon, Fires of Faith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).

3 From 1571 to the end of her reign, Elizabeth I issued increasingly restrictive penal laws against Catholic practices. The severity of the laws and the rigor with which authorities enforced them fluctuated depending on the government's perceived threat of domestic uprising or foreign invasion, particularly by Spain. Practices prohibited include reconciling subjects to the Catholic faith, harboring priests, importing or possessing sacramental items such as rosaries and agni dei, and celebrating or hearing Mass. Punishments included loss of goods, imprisonment, and execution for treason. By the mid 1580s, a Catholic priest ordained after 1559 risked death if found within England. Fines for non-attendance at Protestant services grew significantly, and eventually the government could seize two-thirds of the income from the property of recusants who refused to pay fines for non-attendance. By the 1590s, the government required bonds of Catholics, and Catholic movements were restricted to within five miles of their homes. The most notable of these laws include 13 Eliz I, c. 1 and 2 (Act of Persuasions); 23 Eliz I, c. 1; 27 Eliz 1, c. 2; 29 Eliz I, c. 6; and 35 Eliz I, c. 2. James I and Charles I reissued the Elizabethan penal laws along with their own modifications. For examples, see 3 and 4 James I, c. 6; 7 James I, c. 6; Calendar of State Papers Domestic (hereafter referred to as CSP Dom) 16/5/41. See discussion of these issues in McClain, Lisa, Lest We Be Damned: Practical Innovation and Lived Experience among Catholics in Protestant England, 1559–1642 (New York: Routledge, 2004), 1937.

4 On pervasiveness of the penitential message and the necessity of the priesthood in providing sacramental penance, see Thayer, Anne, Penitence, Preaching and the Coming of the Reformation, St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2002), esp. chapters 1 and 3; Duffy, Eamon, The Stripping of the Altars, Traditional Religion in England 1400–1580 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 54, 58–62, 315–16; Myers, W. David, ‘Poor Sinning Folk’: Confession and Conscience in Counter-Reformation Germany (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1996); Tentler, Thomas N., Sin and Confession on the Eve of the Reformation (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977).

5 For example, see letter of Robert Southwell to Claudio Aquaviva, December 1586, in Unpublished Documents Relating to the English Martyrs, vol. 1, 1584–1603, ed. Pollen, J. H. (London: Catholic Record Society, V, 1908), 313–14.

6 Lualdi, Katharine Jackson and Thayer, Anne T., eds., Penitence in the Age of Reformations, St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2000), 1. As Thayer later describes, when Protestant reformers such as Luther questioned penitence, people understood reformers were “going for the jugular of the Catholic Church” (Penitence, 90).

7 For example, see Ramsey, Ann, Liturgy, Politics, and Salvation: The Catholic League in Paris and the Nature of Catholic Reform 1540–1630 (Rochester, N.Y.: Rochester University Press, 1999).

8 Bossy, John, The English Catholic Community, 1570–1850 (London: Darnton, Longman & Todd, 1975); Haigh, Christopher, English Reformations: Religion, Politics and Society under the Tudors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993); Aveling, J. C. H., The Handle and the Axe: The Catholic Recusants in England from Reformation to Emancipation (London: Blond and Briggs Ltd., 1976).

9 In the Catholic Church, penance generally refers to three related practices: the sacramental rite of penance, the condition of being repentant, or truly contrite, for one's sins, and the penance undertaken as a corrective (not a punishment) to sin. These second and third understandings of penance can be part of the sacramental rite of penance but could also be assumed independently. The church typically recognizes five types of penance overall: virtue of repentance, sacramental penance, “any prayer, mortification, or other good work imposed either on oneself or by a lawful superior, performed in a spirit of penitence for sin,” canonical penance, and public penance. This study is primarily concerned with the first three types. See Attwater, Donald, ed., A Catholic Dictionary, 2nd ed., revised (New York: MacMillan, 1949), 376.

10 For a detailed description of the penitential process, see Thayer, Penitence, 48–67, 93–97. Priests' ability to absolve sin was based upon John 20: 21–3: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” The Council of Trent upheld this passage as justifying the priestly power to absolve sins in the sacrament of penance in session 14, can. 3. See Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. 2, Trent to Vatican II, ed. Norman P. Tanner, original text established by G. Albergio, J. A. Dossetti, P. P. Joannou, C. Leonardi, and P. Prodi, in consultation with H. Jedin (London: Sheed and Ward, Ltd., 1990). Medieval theologians did not necessarily agree on the form which penance should take or how exactly absolution and remittance of the temporal punishment for sin was achieved. For example, Peter Lombard, Duns Scotus, Pedro Martinez de Osma, and the English Lollards all debated the divine institution and necessity of auricular confession. Desiderius Erasmus, in his Annotations, critiqued the traditional scriptural basis used by the Roman church to justify sacramental confession. See Hillerbrand, Hans, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 4 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 1:402; 3:242–44.

11 See Lea, Henry Charles, A History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church, 3 vols. (Philadelphia, 1896), 1:230. Trent confirmed penance as a sacrament that was virtuous and a work of satisfaction for the temporal punishment due for sin. Auricular confession before a priest, Trent decreed, was divinely instituted and absolutely necessary to achieve salvation. Trent did not resolve medieval debates regarding the exact manner in which confession delivered forgiveness. See Decrees, vol. 2, especially 6th session and 14th session.

12 Duffy, Stripping, 60. England's experience appears to run counter to Myers's interpretations of evidence from German areas of the Holy Roman Empire discussed in Poor Sinning Folk.

13 Thayer, Penitence, 5, 17, 24, 31, 36–37, 43–44, 54, 69–70, 115–17, 120, 185. According to Thayer, preaching served as the “mass media” of the medieval era. Throughout the year, priests encouraged the laity to engage in the penitential process because their eternal souls were at stake, and the laity listened. See also MacCulloch, Diarmid, The Reformation: A History (New York: Penguin, 2005), 1415.

14 From the late fifteenth century onward, there was a growing body of lay penitential literature to provide spiritual guidance for the confessional and daily life.

15 See Duffy, Stripping, 58–65, who discusses the manuals used by clerics in the confessional during this period, such as St. John's College, Cambridge, MS S 35, and Mirk, John, Instructions for Parish Priests, eds. Peacock, E. and Furnivall, F. J. (1868; revised, London: Early English Text Society, original series, XXXI, 1902).

16 Horae Eboracenses: The Book of Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Other Prayers According to the Use of the Church of York from the edition printed in 1536 (Durham: Surtees Society, CXXXII, 1920), 147–48. See also Hoskins, Edgar, Horae Beatae Mariae Virginia, or, Sarum and York primers with Kindred Books and Primers of the Reformed Roman Use (London: Longmans, Green, 1901) 133, on the “Form of Confession” typically found in English primers in the 1520s and 1530s.

17 Horae Eboracenses, 34–36.

18 Duffy, Fires of Faith, 15–17, 133.

19 The Church of England continued the act of confession but in a non-sacramental form as will be discussed below. An English Catholic with a troubled conscience could not simply go into a Protestant Church, confess to a Protestant priest, and get the same result as with the Catholic rite performed by an ordained Roman Catholic cleric. To the Catholic mind, there was no salvific grace accrued with the Protestant ritual.

20 As part of what was known as the English Mission, Englishmen studied at seminaries on the Continent and returned to England as missionaries to replace the dwindling numbers of Marian priests. The mission began after William Allen, a Lancashire priest and emigrant, founded an English College attached to the University of Douai in the Spanish Netherlands in 1568.

21 Public Record Office, Kew, State Papers Domestic Series (hereinafter as SP Dom), 12/244/5.

22 For examples of such analyses, see Questier, Michael C., Catholicism and Community in Early Modern England: Politics, Aristocratic Patronage and Religion, c. 1550–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Reynolds, E. E., Campion and Parsons, The Jesuit Mission of 1580–1 (London: Sheed and Ward, 1980); Bossy. The English Catholic Community; Haigh, “The Continuity of Catholicism in the English Reformation,” Past and Present (GB) 93 (1981): 3769; McClain, Lest We Be Damned, 20, 37–39, 93, 221; Wark, K. R., Elizabethan Recusancy in Cheshire (Manchester: Chetham Society, third series, XIX, 1971); Watts, S. J., From Border to Middle Shire: Northumberland 1586–1625 (Bristol: Leicester University Press, 1975); Aveling, J. C. H., Northern Catholics, The Catholic Recusants of the North Riding of Yorkshire, 1558–1790 (London: Dublin Chapman, 1966).

23 For further examples of mission priests hearing confessions, see SP Dom 12/248/43 and Challoner, Richard, Memoirs of Missionary Priests and Other Catholics of Both Sexes that have Suffered Death in England on Religious Accounts from the Year 1577–1684, vol. 1 (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1924), 29, 42, 68, 73, 154, 194, 383, 396, 410, 440, 464, 476.

24 Rhodes, W. E., ed., The Apostolical Life of Ambrose Barlow, Chetham Miscellanies, new series, ii (Chetham Society, new series, LXIII, 1909) 10.

25 CSP Dom 12/248/43. See also Weston, William, William Weston, The Autobiography of an Elizabethan, trans. Caraman, Philip (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1955), 154, 167, 201; Pollen, Unpublished Documents, 1:265, 287; CSP Dom 12/97/27.

26 Gerard, John, The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, trans. Caraman, Philip (Garden City, N.Y.: Image Books, 1955), 4647, 50, 60, 64.

27 For examples, see CSP Dom 12/244/5, 12/248/43, 12/248/116.

28 Radford, John, A Directorie Teaching the Way to the Truth in a Briefe and Plaine Discovrse against the heresies of this time (n.p., 1605), 104–5. See also Garnet, Henry, The Societie of the Rosary (n.p.d.: 1596/7), 3435; Stanney, William, A treatise of penance, with an explication of the rule, and maner of living, of the brethren and sisters, of the Third Order of St. Frauncis, comonli called of the Order of Penance, ordained for those which desire to leade a holy life, and to doe penance in their owne houses, Part I (Douai: John Heigham, 1617), 65.

29 Wright, Thomas, The Passions of the Mind in General, ed. Newbold, William Webster (New York: Garland, 1986), 319–20, 323.

30 BL, Harleian MS 4149, ff. 14–17. Each page was marked with the sign of the cross.

31 Harleian MS 4149, ff. 10–10v.

32 Emphasis original. For discussion of different interpretations of Mary Magdalene as an aid to sinners, see McClain, “They Have Taken Away My Lord: Mary Magdalene, Christ's Missing Body, and the Mass in Reformation England,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 38, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 7796; Thayer, Penitence, chapter 4.

33 Stanney, A treatise of penance, 354–59; Wright, Passions, 150–201, 319–20, 323. For further examples of examinations of conscience, see Garnet, The Societie, 196–97; Crowther, Arthur and Vincent, Thomas, The Dayly Exercise of the Devout Rosarists Containing several most pithy Practices of Devotion: profitable not only for such as are members of the sacred Rosary, but also for all pious Christians (Amsterdam: 1657), 3539.

34 Stanney, A treatise, Epistle of the translator.

35 A lay order established in 1221 that sought a return to the austere practices originally established by St. Francis of Assisi. Stanney, A treatise, 354–59.

36 Stanney, A treatise, 358–59.

37 Stanney, A treatise, 110–11.

38 Wright, Passions, 147, and also 102, 152–53. This former Jesuit wrote and published Passions in England with license of the government, ostensibly as a secular book. One of the functions of this work, however, was clearly to provide instruction of a religious nature with strong Catholic inclinations. Crosignani, Ginevra, “De Adeundis Eclesiis Protestantium”: Thomas Wright, Robert Parsons, S.J., e il dibattito sul conformismo occasionale nel‘Inghilterra dell’età moderna, Bibliotheca Instituti Historici 56 (Rome: Institutum Historicum S. I., 2004) discusses other examples of Wright's support for dissimulation and limited conformity. For a discussion of dissimulation, see McClain, Lest We Be Damned, 53–54.

39 His affiliation with the Essex faction likely played a roll. See Stroud, Theodore A., “Ben Jonson and Father Thomas Wright,” English Literary History, 14, no. 4 (December 1947): 274–82.

40 Wright, Passions, 155–58.

41 Wright, Passions, 150–53.

42 Stanney, A treatise, 109–10.

43 Stanney, A treatise, 55–57, 63.

44 Stanney, A treatise, 113–14.

45 For example, see Dedicatory in Stanney, A treatise, A2v-A3.

46 Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, First Week, exercises 21–44.

47 Robert Southwell, A Shorte Rule of Good Life, York Minster Library, Add MS 151, chapter 5, ll. 69–72; chapter 6, ll. 138–46; chapter 7, l. 21; chapter 9, l. 49; chapter 10, ll. 62, 128–30; chapter 11, ll. 57–58, 354; Persons, Robert, A Christian Directory, Guiding Men to Their Eternal Salvation (orig. 1582; repr. Liverpool: John Sadler, 1754), 215–16, 233–41, 283, 294, 299–365, 621–22.

48 New Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: McGraw Hill, 1967) xii, 996.

49 As Thayer has commented, “to understand the lay religious situation of late medieval Europe, we do well to look at teaching designed for and delivered to the laity” (Penitence, 4).

50 McClain, Lest We Be Damned, chapters 3 and 4.

51 Printed in Challoner, Memoirs (1924 ed.), 133, quoted in McGrath, Patrick, “Apostate Priests and Naughty Priests in England under Elizabeth I,” in Opening the Scrolls, Essays in Honor of Godfrey Anstruther, ed. Bellenger, Dominic Aidan (Bath: Downside Abbey Trustees, 1987), 69.

52 Stanney, A treatise, 50–53.

53 Stanney, A treatise, 239–40, 283, 299.

54 Stanney, A treatise, Epistle of the translator.

55 Crowther and Vincent, Dayly Exercise, 35–39. See also “Castigo corpus meum et in servitutem redigo,” 1 Corinthians 9:27, and “Mortificate membra vestra quae sunt super terram,” Colossians 3:5, quoted in Wright, Passions, 91–92; Stanney, A treatise, 55–57, 184, for justifications from St. Basil, Dionysius the Carthusian, and the abbot Pynusius.

56 Stanney, A treatise, 55–57. Stanney made clear, as mentioned above, that he was referring to self-imposed penance.

57 A convenient application of ex opere operato to meet the needs of English Catholics. Thomas Tentler and, more recently, Anne Thayer delve deeply into doctrinal debates surrounding confession and penance in the medieval and Reformation periods. Interestingly, these English Catholic authors do not make significant mention of the theological debates over sacramental penance engaged in by prominent medieval theologians such as Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas, and Duns Scotus discussed by Tentler and Thayer. Tentler, Sin and Confession; Thayer, Penitence, esp. chapter 4.

58 Bucke, John, Instructions for the use of the beades (1589; repr., Menston, Yorkshire: The Scolar Press, 1971), 69.

59 Wright, Passions, 234.

60 Stanney, A treatise, 50–53.

61 Stanney, A treatise, 50–52.

62 Stanney, A treatise, 49–53.

63 Poem probably written between 1577–84. Llanover MS, Welsh MS, 23, Ph.2954, 1:255 quoted in Pollen, Unpublished Documents, 97.

64 Stanney, A treatise, 7; For further example, see Wright, Passions, 319–20, who instructed readers to crucify their sins so that they might follow the path of virtue.

65 Wright, Passions, 91–92.

66 Wright, Passions, 153.

67 For examples, see BL, Lansdowne MS 153, ff. 67, 70; SP Dom 12/154/75, 14/7/89; Public Record Office, Kew, State Papers Scotland 52/49/31a.

68 For example, see Selections from the Household Books of Lord William Howard of Naworth Castle (Durham: Surtees Society, LXVIII, 1878), lxi, 257, 363.

69 Forbes-Leith, William, Memoirs of the Scottish Catholics during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, selected from hitherto unedited manuscripts (London: Longmans, Green, 1909), 161–62, 208–9.

70 Radford, A Directorie, A3. See also Stanney, 310–11, for further example of simplified didactic messages.

71 See Brown, Nancy Pollard, “Paperchase: The Dissemination of Catholic Texts in Elizabethan England,” in English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700, vol. I, eds. Beal, Peter and Griffiths, Jeremy (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 120–43; McClain, Lest We Be Damned, 49–54; Walsham, Alexandra, Providence in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 6, 32–35.

72 Burton, Edwin H., London Streets & Catholic Memories (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1925), 33. See also BL, Lansdowne MS 350, f. 12.

73 SP Dom 12/206/53. Indulgences were particularly popular in England according to Thayer, Penitence, 176.

74 McGrath, “Apostate priests,” 69.

75 Aveling, “Catholic Households in Yorkshire, 1580–1603,” Northern History 16 (1980): 8990.

76 Morris, John, ed., The Troubles of Our Catholic Forefathers Related by Themselves, 3 vols. (London: Burns & Oates, 1877), 3:40.

77 Morris, The Troubles, 3:38; Stanney, A treatise, 236–44.

78 Stonyhurst MS, “Notes by a Prisoner in Ousebridge, Kidcote,” printed in Morris, The Troubles, 3:322.

79 SP Dom 16/22/111.

80 Tentler, Sin and Confession, 369. See also Thayer, Penitence, 142–43, who contends that all major Protestant reformers abhorred sacramental penance, seeking not to reform abuses but to challenge the very understanding of the rituals and benefits associated with confession and penance.

81 Protestant reformers devalued penance as a sacrament, alleging it did not pass the test of sola scriptura. Protestants did not agree, however, on what should replace sacramental penance to console and discipline Christians. See Tentler, Sin and Confession, 349–50.

82 Vaux, Lawrence, A catechisme or a Christian doctrine necessarie for children & the ignorant people (Liège, 1583 ed.), aiii. Although some Catholic commentators criticized Vaux's insistence on the continuation of late medieval practices, it is Vaux's views on penance with which lay English Catholics would have been most familiar due to the wide circulation of his catechism in the first decades of Elizabeth's reign. First printed in 1567, it was reprinted in 1574, 1583, 1599, and 1605 and circulated throughout England.

83 The Council made this commandment to help Christians avoid receiving absolution from an incomplete confession (that is, holding back information on sins committed), which was considered sacrilege.

84 Crowther and Vincent, Dayly Exercise, 40, quoting session 14, chapter 5 of the Decrees of the Council of Trent.

85 Loarte, Gasparo, Instructions and Advertisements How to Meditate upon the misteries of the Rosarie of the most holy Virgin Mary, trans. anonymous (1613; reprint, Menston, Yorkshire: The Scolar Press, 1970), 240–42. See also Pinelli, Luca, The Virgin Marie's Life, Faithfully Gathered Out of Auncient & Holie Fathers, trans. Gibbons, Richard (Douai: Laurens Kellam, 1604), 9699.

86 St. Borgia, Francis, The Practice of Christian Workes (1620; repr., Menston, Yorkshire: Scolar Press, 1970), 138–40. Although this work was originally published in Spanish, decades earlier, it was not translated into English until 1620.

87 Borgia, The Practice, 141–51, 261, particularly 146. See also MacCulloch, The Reformation, 411–13.

88 The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 1:401–3; Delumeau, Jean, L'aveu et le pardon: Les difficultés de la confession, XIIIe-XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Fayard, 1990); Thayer, Penitence, 142–43, 150–52; Cameron, Euan, The European Reformation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 305–7; MacCulloch, The Reformation, 129.

89 Myers, Poor Sinning Folk, 63–72. Reformers also ensured specific sins were investigated and punished but through alternative means to sacramental confession, such as through Calvinist-influenced civic magistrates/consistory courts. MacCulloch, The Reformation, 593–95.

90 For alternative views on sin, guilt, and despair among English Protestants, see Stachniewski, John, The Persecutory Imagination: English Puritanism and the Literature of Religious Despair (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991); Collinson, Patrick, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 346–71.

91 For form of general confession used in Church of England after 1559, see Wigan, Bernard, ed., The Liturgy in English (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), 67.

92 Tentler, Sin and Confession, 349–62; Thayer, Penitence, 143.

93 Luther's Small Catechism, The Augsburg Confession, and Philip Melanchthon's Loci Communes all continue to allow private auricular confession, however in non-mandatory, non-sacramental form. See The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 1:401–2. See Thayer's excellent description of Luther's views on confession and penance in Penitence, chapter 5, and Tentler, Sin and Confession, 50.

94 Henry VIII's Ten Articles (1536) and Six Articles (1539) had both endorsed private auricular confession, but the prayer books adopted by Edward VI and Elizabeth I only allowed it. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 1:402.

95 Thomas, Keith, Religion and the Decline of Magic (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971), 154–58. Tentler, Sin and Confession, xiii; Bossy, John, “The Social History of Confession on the Eve of the Reformation,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 25 (1975): 2138.

96 Kenneth L. Parker, “Richard Greenham's ‘spiritual physicke’: The Comfort of Afflicted Consciences in Elizabethan Pastoral Care,” in Penitence, ed. Lualdi and Thayer, 71–83. For more on Greenham, see Bozeman, Theodore Dwight, The Precisianist Strain: Disciplinary Religion & Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2004), chapters 4 and 5.

97 See form of absolution in Wigan, Liturgy, 7.

98 A majority of reformers valued penance but not as a sacrament and not to achieve forgiveness of sin. Instead, they understood it in light of being truly repentant or contrite for one's misdoings. True guilt and contrition were seen as evidence of God's saving grace rather than as a means to that grace. Once the believer's heart buckled under his guilt and remorse, Protestant clerics consoled him that this was proof of his complete and wholly unmerited forgiveness from Christ. Moreover, Protestant reformers decried the asceticism and self-mortification of many Catholic penitents. Rather than viewing self-denial as holy, Protestants believed that financial security and honor inclined the believer to do even more good in the world and was evidence of God's special favor. Hunt, William, The Puritan Moment: The Coming of Revolution in an English County (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983), 120–21, 126.

99 See Martin Luther, Three Treatises, 294, 308. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 3, chapters 3–10, suggests that properly performed penance consists of changes in lifestyle, revitalization of the spirit, and even mortification of the flesh, so long as such mortification is done prudently and not misguidedly or zealously. In general, however, reformers encouraged internal versus external acts of penance. Both in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 3:243.

100 See Bozeman, The Precisianist Strain, chapters 1, 4, and 5.

101 BL, Sloane MS 4035, f. 12.

102 This runs directly counter to the Council of Trent's attempt to enforce lay Catholic loyalty to one priest and one parish, thereby limiting a layperson's exposure to a multiplicity of religious influences.

The author would like to thank the members of the Group for Early Modern Studies at Boise State University—Mac Test, Matthew Hansen, Steven Crowley, Janice Neri, and Jim Stockton—for their valuable suggestions during the writing of this article.


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