The Professionalization of the Clergy

Parish Priests in Early Modern Malta

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Frans Ciappara Associate Professor, International Institute for Baroque Studies, University of Malta, Malta

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This article engages with the role of the parish priests in Malta in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It focuses especially on their degree of professionalization by examining their relations with the bishop and with the other members of the clergy and the laity. It concludes that, as in other countries, it was difficult for the decrees of the council of Trent to be fully implemented in Malta. If some parish priests were diligent in exercising their duty, others preferred to put their personal interests before those of their flock. For some, the gaining of money was their besetting sin with the result that running feuds were an inseparable part of most parishes.

Contributor Notes

Frans Ciappara is associate professor at the International Institute for Baroque Studies at the University of Malta. His field of specialization is the religious history of early modern Malta, especially the eighteenth century, on which he has published seven books. He has written on marriage; death; confraternities; ecclesiastical immunity; the Roman inquisition; parish priests and their position in the parish; the Enlightenment and Maltese enlightened reformers, like Nicolò Muscat, the first advocate general of Malta. He is also the editor of The Journal of Baroque Studies issued annually by the institute. Email:

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