Popular religiosity has at times been seen as a pure expression of faith and devotion on the part of the people, and at times as a deviation from the orthodox principles and rites of the Catholic religion. But what are the expressions and manifestations of popular religiosity? And how deeply rooted are they in our culture and our religious tradition?
Pope Pius VI expressed himself about popular piety – Particular expressions of the search for God and faith are found among the people. For a long time considered less pure, sometimes despised. – Popular piety – popular religiosity – popular religion – are different expressions that often have ended up designating all the same thing. Demonstrations of faith that originate from the lower strata of the population and that often did not find space and recognition on the part of Catholic orthodoxy.
Popular religiosity has its own rites, symbols, and languages that express purity and spontaneity, but which are far from randomness or improvisation. They are rites deeply rooted in popular culture and also for this reason they allow a less formal and less intellectual approach to religion. They embody the profound spirituality of the humblest people and having popular roots, they are often linked to nature, the earth, and the passing of the seasons.
Rites and language of popular religiosity
The rites of popular religiosity have not always been opposed by the official Church. Often certain customs have become part of the actual religious rites. Think of the use of kissing and touching sacred statues, images, relics, or other sacred objects. To the habit of accompanying the saints in procession or to go on pilgrimage to sacred places. Even presenting offerings and votive gifts or kneeling in an act of prayer are symbols and expressions that come from afar and that have been handed down from generation to generation.