Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Giovanna Benadusi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anne Koenig, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Fraser Ottanelli, Ph.D.


Education, Italy, Jesuits, Public Happiness, Reform, Ritual


My research analyzes the way in which Ludovico Antonio Muratori portrayed marginal peoples of the New World in his Il Cristianesimo Felice nelle Missioni De' Padri della Compagnia di Gesù nel Paraguai, published in 1743. I argue that Muratori used his portrayal of the native people of Paraguay as a means to express his ideas of how to reform the Catholic Church, at a time when Catholicism was just experiencing the first waves of enlightened influence from the north. I engage with scholarship on the Enlightenment that has addressed specifically the cultural impact of what has been called the Catholic Enlightenment in Italy. In this scholarship Il Cristianesimo Felice has been virtually unrepresented, and I argue that it is a valuable resource in gaining a better understanding the reform agendas of Muratori and the Catholic Enlightenment movement in Italy. I center my analysis on two specific elements in Il Cristianesimo Felice. First, I address Muratori's assessment of the four political systems administered simultaneously by the native population, the Spaniards, the Mamelusses, and the Jesuits. Through my analysis of Muratori's representation of these systems, I situate him in the politically conservative Catholic Enlightenment and establish his commitment to the paternalistic social order prevailing in Europe in the eighteenth century. Second, I show that Muratori reveals broader ideas about religion and superstition as conceived by the Catholic Enlightenment movement in his account of the interaction between the Jesuit missionaries and the Paraguayans in the reductions. In conclusion, this study shows that Il Cristianesimo Felice is a source that historians of the Catholic Enlightenment movement should revisit, as it represents Ludivico Antonio Muratori's Pubblica Felicita in the flesh.