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October 05, 2005

Catholic Recruiting

Anonymous, York Corpus Christi Plays -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

Since the plays were performed as part of a day-long celebration of Corpus Christi -- the presence of the Body of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist -- they upheld the authority of the Church as a theological and moral guide for living in this world and the next. (http://jerz.setonhill.edu/resources/PSim/yorkintro.html)

The fact that the ceremony served to "uphold the authority of the Church," less than surprised me. Every line in "The Crucifixion" play reminds the audience of the pain Jesus went through-- It must send the people who are less-than-perfect models of morality on quite a guilt trip... and boost church membership!

Posted by DavidDenninger at October 5, 2005 04:37 PM


Good point, David. In fact, during the Protestant Reformation, after England broke from the Church of Rome, these plays were such a powerful tool to encourage the "old" faith that the plays were outlawed.

The master copy of the script used in York was actually confiscated by the authorities, for fear that mobs of the faithful would use religious freedom as a rallying cry that led to revolution. (That's exactly what happened in Communist Poland after John Paul II visited there, by the way.) In England, until the 20th century, there was a law against the depiction of God on the stage.

Ironically, it was because the authorities confiscated the script that it ended up being discovered, and the plays once again studied and performed.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 6, 2005 11:36 AM

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