Publication Date

March 1, 2007

Perspectives Section


At its 87th annual meeting—held in Atlanta in conjunction with the 121st annual meeting of the AHA—the American Catholic Historical Association conferred its annual book awards, the Howard R. Marraro Prize and the John Gilmary Shea Prize.

Lance Lazar, an assistant professor of history at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, received the Howard R. Marraro Prize for his book, Working in the Vineyard of the Lord: Jesuit Confraternities in Early Modern Italy (Univ. of Toronto Press, 2005). In awarding the prize, the judging committee stated:

This careful and learned monograph makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the motivations, goals, and accomplishments of Jesuit confraternities in the initial decades of the Order. Professor Lazar . . . convincingly demonstrates the vitality of these sometimes makeshift charitable institutions, and he shows how St. Ignatius himself played a critical role in shaping them. Each of the three confraternity-run houses sought to intervene to help the marginalized, and each did so with the goal of preparing its charges for reintegration into society. For each confraternity, the Jesuits enlisted the participation and financial support of elite lay people, especially of noblewomen, and respected traditional class divisions rather than trying to eradicate them. Each of the three charitable institutions provided a model of outreach that would be highly influential. Working in the Vineyard of the Lord is most impressive for how it situates its panoptic view of early Jesuit confraternities in the larger context of sixteenth-century European cultures of reform. Professor Lazar has read both widely and deeply in the scholarly literature, not only about institutions of poor relief in both Protestant and Catholic regions, but also about how Christians historically had dealt with prostitutes, Jews, and Muslims, respectively. Equipped with this formidable range of knowledge, he is able to distinguish authoritatively between the traditional and the innovative, and between the generic and the unique. The result is a measured, richly documented contribution that promises to be of lasting significance.

The Howard R. Marraro Prize is given annually to the author of a book that is judged by a committee of experts to be the most distinguished work dealing with Italian history or Italo-American history or relations that has been published in a preceding 12-month period. It is named in memory of Howard A. Marraro (1879–1972), who was a professor in Columbia University and the author of more than a dozen books on Italian literature, history, and culture. In his last will Marraro bequeathed to the association a sum to be invested as a fund, the income from which would be awarded each year as a prize.

Lance Lazar studied at Dartmouth College and the University degli studi di Bologna before receiving his PhD from Harvard University in 1998. He taught at the University of North Carolina before joining the faculty at Assumption College in 2005. In addition to Working in the Vineyard he has coedited a collection of essays, Human Sacrifice in Jewish-Christian Tradition, as well as several articles on Catholicism in Europe, generally and the Jesuits in Italy, in particular.

Michael Hayden, professor emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan, and Malcolm Greenshields, professor of history at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, received the association’s John Gilmary Shea Prize for their book 600 Years of Reform: Bishops and the French Church, 1190–1789 (McGill-Queens University Press, 2005). In presenting the award of $750 to be shared by the authors, the judging committee declared:

600 Years of Reform is a sweeping study of synodal and episcopal reform legislation in the French Church from the reign of Innocent III to the French Revolution. Using computerized and statistical analysis of a highly sophisticated kind, the authors have, for the first time, given us a comprehensive description of the four waves of institutional reform undergone by the Church in France and a detailed picture of the legislation in each period. The result is a panorama that is both nuanced and comprehensive, not only chronologically but also geographically. This work provides a framework for further study of the bishops as reformers, as well the linkages between reform, royal, and papal authority. In addition, it lays the groundwork for a suggestive refraining of traditional questions of continuity and discontinuity in the history of Catholic reform.

Michael Hayden was educated at the John Carroll University in Cleveland, and the University of Paris. He received his PhD from Loyola University Chicago. He taught at the University of Detroit before joining the faculty at the University of Saskatchewan in 1966. He has been professor emeritus there since 2001. His books include France and the Estates General (1974) andThe Presence of the Past (1991) and he has published heavily in Canadian educational history as well as the history of France.

Malcolm Greenshields was educated at the University of Saskatchewan before receiving his DPhil from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. He taught and served as an administrator at the University of Saskatchewan before joining the University of Lethbridge in 1985. He became a full professor there in 1996. He has written extensively on Canadian religious history as well as French Catholic history.

The prize is named in memory of the famous historian of American Catholicism, John Gilmary Shea (1824–1892), and is partially funded by a bequest of the late John Whitney Evans of the College of Saint Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota. It is given each year to the American or Canadian author who, in the opinion of the committee, has made the most original and significant contribution to the historiography of the Catholic Church in the form of a book published during the previous 12-month period ending June 30.

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