Printed Prayers in Italy
c. 1460 - 1660

The Printed Prayers project investigates three understudied forms of popular devotional texts from early modern Italy, studying them collectively under the new category of printed prayers. The Printed Prayers project examines cheap religious print in the form of single-sheet fliers, printed images with captions, and short printed-prayer pamphlets, of which an estimated 300 examples survive in repositories in Italy, Europe, and the US. Through the lens of printed prayers, this project will elucidate the cultural context of cheap devotional texts printed in Italy in the period between c. 1460 and 1660. Beginning with the establishment of the first printing press in Italy and ending at 1660, one hundred years after the end of the Council of Trent, the timeframe facilitates a comprehensive investigation of how printed prayers changed in response to technological, societal, and religious developments. Since exemplars of early modern Italian printed prayers survive in small quantities, and often only as a single fragile example, this project performs the important task of comprehensively documenting and studying this important evidence of ephemeral print culture and popular devotional practices. The project’s first goal is to design a database to preserve a digital record of the bibliographical, textual, and visual features of these rare extant printed prayers.

Katherine Tycz’s Printed Prayers project was currently funded by an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Galway from 2021-2023. Initial research for the project proposal was started during an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at the Wolf Humanities Center at the University of Pennsylvania.