Cassandra Painter

Cassandra Painter
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Graduate Fellow (2016-2017)
  • “The Life and Afterlife of Anna Katharina Emmerick: Reimagining Catholicism in Modern Germany”

Cassandra Painter is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on the religious and cultural history of modern Germany. She is particularly interested in lived religion in the modern world, in the uses of culture to express identity, and the ways in which faith traditions evolve and adapt over time and space. Her dissertation examines the life and subsequent cult of veneration of stigmatic and visionary Anna Katharina Emmerick (1774-1824), using her as a recurring touchstone in an examination of how German Catholics created meaning and built community in modern Germany; who was able to participate in this process; and how Catholics’ understanding of themselves, their faith, and their place in Germany evolved over time. Ms. Painter has presented her research at the German Historical Institute’s Transatlantic Doctoral Seminar, the German Studies Association, and the American Historical Association.

A William J. Fulbright Scholarship funded Ms. Painter’s archival research in Germany in 2013- 2014, and she was also offered funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). She is a Jacob K. Javits Fellow, and a recipient of the University of Rochester’s Meyer Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistantship. Grants from the DAAD and the Language School of Middlebury College have supported her training in German and Italian respectively. A Heritage Scholar Award, a full-tuition scholarship awarded based on academic merit, funded her undergraduate degree at the College of Idaho.


  • Domesticating a Mystic: Catholic Saint-Making in Weimar Germany

    Central European History, 2018

    Cassandra Painter

    Veneration of Westphalian stigmatic and visionary Anna Katharina Emmerick (1774–1824) reached new heights during the Weimar Republic. German Catholics engaged in promoting her beatification cause organized a multipronged, multimedia campaign. Priests and laypersons, as well as the popular press and theological journals, all encouraged the veneration of Emmerick as “a crucified saint for a crucified Volk.” Memories of Napoleonic French aggression, secularization, and waning religious belief provided revanchist Weimar German Catholics with a readymade narrative of victimization. Moreover, as a poster child of the Westphalian Heimat, her pilgrimage sites offered a spiritual antidote to the “godless” modern city. Meanwhile, everyday Catholics continued a century-old, locally-based tradition of veneration that did not strictly conform to the new “official” line. Emmerick’s Weimar cult, and the modern saint-making process more generally, thus provide a window onto the push and pull between clergy and laity, men and women, institutional and popular forces, in shaping lived German Catholicism in the 1920s.

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