Vatican ceremonies and tourist culture in nineteenth-century British travelogues.
In: Hollington, M., Waters, C. and Jordan, J., eds.
Imagining Italy: Victorian Writers and Travellers.
Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, pp. 14-34.
Publisher's URL: http://www.c-s-p.org/Flyers/Imagining-Italy1-4438-...
Nineteenth-century British tourists who attended Catholic ceremonies in Italy were more than mere passive observers. Their accounts of Holy Week in the Vatican reveal a tension between, on the one hand, British tourists’ denigration of Catholic rituals stemming from theological or perceived cultural differences and, on the other, their fascination with spectacle. This fascination undermines their self-image as culturally superior to sensuous South Europeans and suggests the increasing attraction of the British middle class to visual and spectacular culture. Although they appear to value these rituals for their authenticity, the tourists are shown to privilege spectacle and entertainment. Mirroring the conflicting attitudes within the tourists, the Vatican authorities paradoxically maintain an image of Catholicism which guarantees the Papal States an income from tourism but which perpetuates anti-Catholic prejudice.
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