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The Materiality of God: Catholic Eucharist Wine, Hiding Desires and Words of Repression in Counter-Reformation Spanish Mystical Literature

An online seminar hosted by The University of Western Australia. Part of the CHE Virtual Fellows Seminar Series


Image: Nheyob, Photo of Eucharistic stained glass window depicting bread and wine surrounded by a frame depicting grapes and ears of grain (St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Findlay, Ohio), 7 February 2011. Wikimedia Commons

Date: Friday 11 November 2022
Time: 5:00pm AWST / 8:00pm AEDT
Venue: Online via Zoom. Please email emotions@uwa.edu.au for connection details. 
Enquiries: emotions@uwa.edu.au

The present work investigates the Catholic eucharistic wine as a symbol of a singular emotion expressed literary and performatively: the desire to achieve the materiality of Christ during Counter-Reformation Spain. With the Protestant Reformation the meaning of the Eucharist, of bread made (or not) body and wine made (or not) blood, was once again at the center of theological and political debate. While all reformed theologies, despite their differences, supported the laity’s access to both species (bread and wine), the Catholic Church maintained exclusive access to the chalice only for clerics. It is towards the withholding of the cup where we want to focus our gaze since, even though its origin dates from the Middle Ages, the new context of the interconfessional struggle put new meanings on it. We propose that the reservation of the cup for the priest not only managed to unify a community of Catholic belief but also left a repressed desire to a group of laypeople to whom the church denied the chalice. It will show us an undeniable intraconfessional conflict which clues we hope to find in one universe of religious texts that sought to shape lay belief: mystical literature.


Kirk Essary (The University of Western Australia)


Facundo Sebastián Macías (Universidad de Buenos Aires-Conicet)