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DOI

10.32436/2475-6423.1050

Abstract

In this essay, I propose that substitution is one way subjects situate themselves in relation to European Catholics’ growing interest in multiple pilgrimages. I elaborate this claim through a case study of one Transylvanian Hungarian Catholic woman, Emilia, who substituted a story about a Transylvanian Hungarian shrine, Our Lady of Csíksomlyó, for a story about the Lourdes pilgrimage in France. I set also Emilia’s experience within a social context of memory production in the World Family of Radio Mária, a global Catholic media network that promotes devotional remembering. Emilia’s story about Our Lady of Csíksomlyó had revealed the strain of class differences in her relationship with her adult daughter, Bíborka. What made it possible to substitute the two stories was the fact that Emilia perceived their narrative arcs to be congruent. Finally, I argue that Emilia’s act of switching two stories and shrines is neither a conscious act of explicit comparison nor a reflex response to external determinants. Drawing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s account of substitution developed in his theory of embodied experience, I see the substitution of shrines as a directed activity between blind mechanism and intelligent behavior.

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