The Church Divided: The Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits and the Immaculate Conception Controversy in Seventeenth-Century Spain

Hayley R Bowman, Purdue University


This thesis examines the debates between the Jesuits, Franciscans, and Dominicans about the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary through sermons and artwork in Madrid and Seville from 1595 to 1680. Although the religious orders had different opinions on the issue since the thirteenth century, the doctrine became a central point of contention during the sixteenth century as an aspect of both Catholic Reform and the Counter-Reformation. Beginning in 1595, the issue came to the forefront of theological debates. By 1680, pro- and anti-Immaculate preachers overtly denounced each other in sermons, while art contributed to the widespread popularity of the doctrine. Hundreds of paintings of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, produced by some of the most important Spanish Golden Age masters, decorated churches, convents and public buildings. As one of the most controversial theological issues of the seventeenth century, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception reveals the complex nature of Spanish Catholicism in the post-Reformation period.




Mitchell, Purdue University.

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