The phenomenon of “folk religion” often bore a tangential relationship to the more precise yet abstract statements of Christian doctrine that the church preferred – but that many lay people found unintelligible or unattractive. In parts of Europe, something close to “fertility cults” emerged, connected and enmeshed with the patterns and concerns of everyday life. The agrarian needs of rural communities – such as haymaking and har- vesting – were firmly associated with popular religion.
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For example, in the French diocese of Meaux in the early sixteenth century, the saints were regularly invoked in order to ward off animal and infant diseases, the plague and eye trouble, or to ensure that young women find appropriate husbands. The direct connection of religion and everyday life was taken for granted. The spiritual and the material were interconnected at every level.