Accepted Paper:

Will an ecological Virgin Mary ever appear? Devotion and ecology in contemporary European Catholicism  

Author:

Alexandre Grandjean (University of Lausanne)

Paper short abstract:

Contemporary marian devotion and marian pilgrimages seem to be alien to the current ecological imprint. Considering the recent "greening" of the Catholic Church as a new institutional trend, could we expect to observe new kinds of Virgins appearing and promoting ecological values?

Paper long abstract:

European pilgrimages such as those to Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje, are places where former Church social doctrines may be reenacted through the devotional figure of the Virgin Mary and the messages she is said to have delivered. On the one hand, in some of these places, the religious communities or the institution in charge of the site still tend to promote antimodernist, antiliberal and/or anticommunist contents. On the other hand, in more mainstream pilgrimages like Lourdes or Fatima, new elaborations in terms of a spirituality of the self and well-being can be observed. However, what seems to be absent in contemporary marian devotions and pilgrimages is an ecological imprint. One explanation could be that another less apologetical and more "up-to-date" devotional figure, Francis of Assisi patron of ecologists, has already come to personalize the new "green" values inside and outside the Church. It has also come to symbolize unity in diversity as the interreligious encounters held in Assisi exemplify it. Starting from data collected through ethnographic fieldworks in Lourdes, Medjugorje and in several marian devotion movements in Switzerland (2009-2015), we shall first define some of the devotional modalities observed in marian devotions. Then recent observations made out of an ongoing research project on the involvement of churches on ecological issues in Switzerland (2015-2016) shall be used to define the "green" trend in Catholic Church. In conclusion, we shall theoretically discuss the probability of a merging between contemporary marian devotion modalities and ecological investments observed in the Catholic Church.

Panel P130
Unity in diversity? Anthropological reflections on interreligious devotion and dialogue in Europe [Anthropology of Religion Network]