Across rural Quebec twenty-foot devotional crosses stand tall along the waysides. A tradition inherited from France, lay people constructed crosses on or near their property, especially during the "Marian century" (c. 1850s-1950s). Today, most associated devotional practices, including group prayers, have almost disappeared. Yet approximately 3,000 crosses remain and their continued existence defies the predictions of an earlier generation of "folklore" specialists who, in the 1970s, concluded that their demise was imminent. This chapter argues that the secularization model that drove that prediction, and contemporary post-secularization models are inadequate conceptual frameworks for understanding the experience of being at the wayside cross. Drawing instead on recent work in anthropology of prayer, it traces how the crosses are central nodes in generationally shifting ‘prayerscapes’. In other words, the changing nature of the Catholic Church in Quebec has not only made people pray for different things, but has also changed the kind of prayers they say. This chapter traces the evolution of prayer by drawing on the large archive amassed over a ten-year study of the crosses in the 1970s, and on fieldwork conducted from 2012-14.
California Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.