Faith in the family

A lived religious history of English Catholicism, 1945-82

By Alana Harris

Faith in the family


  • Paperback
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8574-1
  • Pages: 320
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: November 2013
  • BIC Category: History, Modern History, Religion, History of religion, Christian Churches, denominations, groups, RELIGION / Christianity / Catholic, RELIGION / Christian Church / History, Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholic Church, Humanities / History of religion


Drawing upon a multi-disciplinary methodology employing diverse written sources, material practices and vivid life histories, Faith in the family seeks to assess the impact of the Second Vatican Council on the ordinary believer, alongside contemporaneous shifts in British society relating to social mobility, the sixties, sexual morality and secularisation. Chapters examine the changes in the Roman Catholic liturgy and Christology; devotion to Mary, the rosary and the place of women in the family and church, as well as the enduring (but shifting) popularity of Saints Bernadette and Thérèse.

Appealing to students of modern British gender and cultural history, as well as a general readership interested in religious life in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century, Faith in the family illustrates that despite unmistakable differences in their cultural accoutrements and interpretations of Catholicism, English Catholics continued to identify with and practise the 'Faith of Our Fathers' before and after Vatican II.


An important new study of the transformation of Roman Catholicism that fills a critical gap in the historical literature on religion in post-war Britain. Painstakingly researched and based on extensive archival evidence ... Faith in the family will stand as an important benchmark in British debates about secularisation which hitherto have ignored developments within English Catholicism.'
Nancy Christie, The University of Western Ontario

'Her sophisticated analysis of current debates around gender, sexuality and secularisation ... make this book a model of interdisciplinary brilliance.'
Sue Morgan, University of Chichester

The result is an impressive and sometimes surprising account of the changing ways in which different aspects of faith and practice are reconstructed by the religious imagination.

This is a book to remember for its finely tuned, excellent scholarship and meticulous attention to English Roman Catholic lived historical facts.

'This book represents an important and welcome contribution to modern British religious history. Harris is to be commended for not only mining so much primary material, including the oral history interviews, but also in seeking to situate the Catholic experience within the larger historical landscape.'
Darren Tierney, University of Glasgow, Innes Review


1 Introduction: a Vatican rag
2 English Catholicism reconsidered: beyond 'ghettos' and 'golden ages'
3 Gatherings at the family table: the liturgy, the Eucharist and Christ Our Brother
4 'A model for many homesteads': Marian devotion, the Holy Family and Catholic conceptions of marriage and sexuality
5 'Plaster saints' or 'spiritual friends'? St Thérèse of Lisieux, St Bernadette Soubirous and the Forty Martyrs
6 Conclusion: hymns ancient and modern


Alana Harris is Lecturer in Modern British History at King's College London

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