Popular Piety: Living or “Dead” Tradition?

Author: Ivan Platovnjak SJ

DOI: https://doi.org/10.26142/stgd-2018-007

Download: PDF


Slovenians fill the churches on Holy Saturday, when they bring Easter food to be blessed. Most faithful Slovenes cannot imagine an Easter feast without a blessed ham, but they do not have a problem with the fact that they do not attend the ceremonial Easter Mass. This is why all the parish churches and many chapels in Slovenia are fully occupied on Holy Saturday. The question arises: Is this a living or dead tradition of popular piety? At first glance, it could be said that it is very much alive, but if we search more deeply, we could say that it is dead, because it has become only a matter of custom for many, a habit which no longer has any real connection to the reality of the Easter holiday itself. In this discussion, the author tries to answer the question of when popular piety is a living tradition and when it is not. First, he briefly presents the relevant terminology. In the second section, he describes when popular piety is a living tradition, and in the third, when it is dead. In the final section, he points to the need for wise pastoral discernment and action so that popular piety will remain a living tradition that helps lead to the fullness of life in the spirit of the gospel.


Popular Piety, Tradition, Pastoral, Discernment, Liturgy, Spirituality