By highlighting the intersection of clergy, elites, and outcast groups, Working in the Vineyard of the Lord illuminates the understanding of religious reform, popular devotion, and changing attitudes toward charity in sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Italy. Lance Lazar's work represents a new look at popular devotion throughout Early Modern Italy and its distillation in confraternal piety.
Lazar's research sheds new light on the sixteenth-century revolution in charity and poor relief, particularly the aggressive new charity focusing on marginalized groups such as prostitutes and Jews, who were among the earliest foci of Jesuit-inspired intervention. The author also recovers women's roles in reform, as recipients, administrators, and benefactors.
Working in the Vineyard of the Lord represents the first assessment of an entire confraternal network affiliated with a single religious order in the Early Modern period. It also reshapes views of the Jesuits and their ministries by reaffirming the prominence of Jesuit-sponsored lay initiatives, and places the earliest Jesuit confraternities in the context of religious reform, voluntary devotion, and changing attitudes toward charity across Early Modern Europe.