This absorbing book takes us back to the busy, colorful world of a Netherlandish Catholic bishop and his flock during the age of Reformation. It is drawn from a rare journal, one of many kept by Mathias Hovius from 1596 to 1620 while he was Archbishop of Mechelen (part of modern Belgium). Elegantly written, the book focuses not only on the life of Mathias Hovius but also on key events and characters of his time; it portrays "lived religion," so that we see people from all sides getting involved in the constant negotiation of what it meant to be a good Catholic. Craig Harline and Eddy Put recreate the eventful life and times of Mathias Hovius-a world in which other-believers were outright heretics, the nagging fevers of old age were the result of unbalanced bodily humors, and a corruptible earth rested motionless at the center of the universe while God sat exalted on a throne just beyond the fixed stars. The authors also tell the stories of monks, nuns, priests, millers, pilgrims, peasant women, saints, town and village councils, and ordinary parishioners; each story, fascinating in its own right, illustrates a major theme in the history of the Catholic Reformation.
In the end Harline and Put have painted a picture teeming with life and energy.