Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

Research: Giulio dalla Grana, RMA

Towianism. Politics and Religion in Italian Romanticism

The research project investigates the diffusion of the religious doctrine of the Polish mystic Andrzej Towiański (1799-1878) in Italy and its reception by the Roman Catholic Church.

Inspired by a divine revelation that happened in 1828, Towiański elaborated a complex religious doctrine imbued with Judaic and Catholic heterodox elements, alongside Romantic and post-Enlightenment political and philosophical concepts.

In the first decades of the nineteenth century, the Polish mystic traveled all across Europe. He gathered disciples, especially in Vilnius, Saint Petersburg, Dresden, Paris, and Bruxelles. Nonetheless, he was usually persecuted by the political authority because he was identified as a political agitator promoting the Polish cause.

Towianism began to diffuse in Piedmont in 1848. Towiański’s disciples were predominantly Italian laymen and clergymen who advocated the unification of Italy and the renewal of the Catholic Church. After a few years, the ecclesiastical authority became suspicious of the phenomenon and started to investigate the Towianists.

Towiański was almost exclusively studied by Polish scholars because of his relations with Polish Romantic literature. Nonetheless, Towianism was a European phenomenon that found fertile ground in Italy and France.

Towiański’s disciples published the teachings of the Polish mystic and hagiographic volumes. Therefore, the studies conducted on Towianism were mostly based on the Towianist narrative, focusing on his exoteric nature instead of the esoteric one.

Through the study of unedited Towianist documentation scattered in several European cities, this research tries to describe an esoteric doctrine and its relations with the Roman Catholic Church amid the European revolutions.

Research: Giulio dalla Granna, RMA

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