"There Were Also Many Women There": Roman Catholic Lay Women in the American Liturgical Movement, 1926-1959

Doctoral Dissertation


The advancement of the field of liturgical studies as a venue for contemporary critical historical and theological discourse depends upon liturgical scholars who effectively utilize gender in their method of analysis. Presently, in liturgical studies, the voices and witnesses of women are often marginalized or completely absent from the recounting of a liturgical-historical narrative. This dissertation, titled “‘There Were Also Many Women There’: Roman Catholic Lay Women in the American Liturgical Movement,” re-examines the narrative of the liturgical movement by focusing on this complex era of liturgical reform and the practical, spiritual, and intellectual engagement of lay, non-religious women with liturgical worship within the mid-twentieth century American Roman Catholic Church. A study of this nature offers a fresh perspective by recovering the integral role which lay women played in the development of liturgical life, including social action, education, worship practice, and familial activity. This historical survey begins with the origins of the liturgical movement in nineteenth century Europe and European women’s involvement (chapter 1), before describing the unique social context of American women who entered the liturgical movement in the twentieth century (chapter 2). Detailing the advance of the Catholic intellectual movement and radical Catholic social movements (chapter 3); and the importance of an integrated lifestyle which sought to combine liturgy with life and labor (chapter 4); leads to the final social frontier of the liturgical movement, the Catholic family and home life (chapter 5). Throughout, use of primary sources reveals the integral nature of American women’s work within the mainstream of the liturgical movement, contributing a valuable new social history to the field of modern liturgical studies.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07212011-211312

Author Katharine Elizabeth Harmon
Advisor Nathan D. Mitchell
Contributor Maxwell E. Johnson, Committee Member
Contributor Mary Catherine Hilkert, O.P., Committee Member
Contributor Nathan D. Mitchell, Committee Chair
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Theology
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2011-06-24

Submission Date 2011-07-21
  • United States of America

  • social history

  • liturgy and theology

  • liturgy and culture

  • liturgy–history

  • church renewal–Catholic church–history

  • twentieth century

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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