At a time when European missionaries were active in the New World to capture the souls of the ‘heathen’ for Catholicism, their confrères were conducting missions throughout Europe itself. For more than two centuries these missions – variously known as internal, parish or popular – were a crucial aspect of religious life, with numerous religious orders and congregations seeking to weave a fabric of evangelisation and catechetical instruction in areas of Europe that were nominally Catholic but were in many ways cut off from orthodox Tridentine Catholicism. This was particularly so in isolated areas on the European periphery. Southern Italy is a case in point. The persistent absence of an efficient parish structure and the dominance of a rather worldly collegiate clergy in the Kingdom of Naples left a large gap in organised religious life in the years following the end of the Council of Trent (1563), a gap that the missions attempted to fill. The mobilisation of preachers, confessors and instructors was vast, concentrated and unceasing. Such is the significance of the missions that they have been identified as the ‘most characteristic and important’ phenomenon of Italian religious history in the seventeenth century. One way to examine their scale and impact would be to map the areas missionised by the various congregations. But this serial approach would tell us very little, other than the fact that all of the towns and villages were visited, most of them repeatedly, over the centuries. Moreover, the varying quality of the surviving records would permit only partial results.