Being a monk in the midst of the world: An Analysis of Ascetism in Twentieth-Century Catholicism and Protestantism in the thought of Ernesto Buonaiuti and Adolf von Harnack

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Valeria Dessy




Lund University


DKK 900,000




Internationalisation Fellowships


The project investigates the connections between two twentieth-century scholars: the Italian Catholic Ernesto Buonaiuti and the German Lutheran Adolf von Harnack. It is the first treatment of Buonaiuti's reception of the monastic tradition and his ties to Harnack. Moreover, the project highlights the connection between the two theologians and the ecumenical movement of New Monasticism.


In contrast to the idea that "asceticism is dead", the project illustrates with an ecumenical approach how ascetic practices are integrated into our culture across various religious denominations. It brings new insights into the relationships between Protestants and Catholics and fosters dialogue across different academic traditions.


The project examines Buonaiuti’s works on the topics of monasticism and asceticism, employing the methodological framework of reception theory. It further analyzes the points of contact between Harnack and Buonaiuti, first regarding monasticism, then regarding their influences on New Monasticism, building on previous research conducted on Buonaiuti and studies on Harnack.

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