Confraternities and their contribution to the fabric of society have become invisible history for us today. Although their activities began in the Renaissance and continued until the end of the Enlightenment, confraternities have not yet found a place in the standard histories of the period, or even in the histories of religion or of the Church. With The Boys of the Archangel Raphael, Konrad Eisenbichler brings to light the daily life and history of one such organization from its founding in 1411 to its final suppression in 1785. While focusing on the Compagnia dell'Arcangelo Raffaello, the first confraternity to be established in Florence, the author also discusses other, similar organizations. By constantly comparing developments across several confraternities, the book provides us with insight into the entire phenomenon of premodern lay religious associations for youths. The study is firmly grounded on archival and contemporary documents, and covers a variety of fields of interest: social history, church history, the history of childhood, and the history of art, literature, and music.
The Boys of the Archangel Raphael will be the authoritative work on youth confraternities for years to come. Winner of the Howard R. Marraro Prize of the American Catholic Historical Association.
Konrad Eisenbichler is Professor of Renaissance Studies and Italian as well as Director, Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies, Victoria University at the University of Toronto.