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From Jacob Burckhardt's 2nd edition of the Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy; edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
Part Six: Morality and Religion
Strength of the Old Faith
» Full Contents of this Part
Part Six: Morality and Religion » Morality and Judgement » Morality and Immorality » Religion in Daily Life » Strength of the Old Faith » Religion and the Spirit of the Renaissance » Influence of Ancient Superstition » General Spirit of Doubt
If, apart from all that concerns the priests and the monks, we attempt to measure the strength of the old faith, it will be found great or small according to the light in which it is considered. We have spoken already of the need felt for the Sacraments as something indispensable. Let us now glance for a moment at the position of faith and worship in daily life. Both were determined partly by the habits of the people and partly by the policy and example of the rulers.
All that has to do with penitence and the attainment of salvation by means of good works was in much the one stage of development or corruption as in the North of Europe, both among the peasantry and among the poorer inhabitants of the cities. The instructed classes were sometimes influenced by the same motives. Those sides of popular Catholicism which had their origin in the old pagan ways of invoking, rewarding, and propitiating the gods have fixed themselves ineradicably in the consciousness of the people. The eighth eclogue of Battista Mantovano, which has already been quoted elsewhere, contains the prayer of a peasant to the Madonna, in which she is called upon as the special patroness of all rustic and agricultural interests. And what conceptions they were which the people formed of their protectress in heaven. What was in the mind of the Florentine woman who gave 'ex voto' a keg of wax to the Annunziata, because her lover, a monk, had gradually emptied a barrel of wine without her absent husband finding it out. Then, too, as still in our own days, different departments of human life were presided over by their respective patrons.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * The Making of Europe