Skip to main content

The Internet and the Madonna

Religious Visionary Experience on the Web

In 1994, a devout Catholic woman from Vermont began having religious visions and hearing the voice of the Virgin Mary. To spread word about her mystical experiences, she turned to the Internet. As Paolo Apolito records here, she is only one of many people who use the Web as a tool of religious devotion. Every day, thousands of Catholics—from Italy and Latin America to the United States and Bosnia—use the Internet to describe and celebrate apparitions of Mary, to exchange relics and advice in chat rooms, to make pilgrimages to religious Web sites, and to practice the rites of their faith online.

But how has this potent new mix of technology and religiosity changed the way Catholics view their faith? And what challenges do the autonomous qualities of the Internet pose to the broader authority of Catholicism? Does the democratic nature of access to digital technologies constitute a return to a more archaic and mystical form of Catholicism that predates the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council?

In working through these questions, Apolito considers visions of Mary on the Web over the past two decades, revealing a great deal about religion as it is now experienced through new information technologies. The Internet, he explains, has made possible a decentralized community of the devoted, even as it has absorbed God into the shifts and complexities of electronic circuitry. And this profound development in religious life will only accelerate as use of the Internet spreads around the world.

An indispensable guide to the future of Catholicism, The Internet and the Madonna offers a compelling glimpse into the spiritual life of the connected soul.

240 pages | 2 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2005

Religion and Postmodernism

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Culture Studies

Media Studies

Religion: Christianity

Table of Contents

Translator’s Note
1. Apparitions On and Off the Web
The Proliferation of Apparitions
The New Visions
The New Visionaries
The Network of Visionaries
The Visionaries on the Web
2. The End Times
3. Science, Technology, and Apparitions
Photography of the Supernatural
Apparitions on Television
Heaven and Earth
The Experiment of the Supernatural
4. Internet
The Surfer and the Web: A Preamble
Virtual Voyages
The Risks of Surfing and Erotic Shipwrecks
Heaven without Borders in the New Age
Winking Jesus and Irony on the Web
The Shoals of Hierarchy and the New Leaders
Without Cardinal Points
Personal Home Pages
Virtual Communities

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press