In 2022, the HRC’s Works that Shaped the World public lecture series focuses on religion.
Gaetano Moroni’s Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica may be the most significant work of nineteenth-century amateur scholarship that you have never heard about. Running to 12,472 entries across 103 volumes (plus a six-volume index), it was printed in Venice between 1840 and 1861 and claims to offer a full account of the Catholic Church’s most important persons and points of cultural reference: from saints, martyrs, popes, bishops, cardinals, and councils, to feasts, rites, ceremonies, paraphernalia and sacramentals. Moroni’s Dictionary has sometimes been discounted as a work of shameless apologetics but it has nevertheless also proved an indispensable tool for the many historians who have needed obscure references to aspects of Europe’s religious past. As a work that takes seriously the material culture of religion, it represents an important milestone in the evolution of nineteenth-century historiography and deserves to be reappraised on those terms.
Dr Miles Pattenden is Senior Research Fellow in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University and a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre, ANU. His books include Pius IV and the Fall of the Carafa (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Electing the Pope in Early Modern Italy (Oxford University Press, 2017).