Not quite in time for Christmas: get the William Alabaster Converter Mug!

Mug featuring William Alabaster

Relive the Renaissance! Experience the evangelical excitement of early modern England with this fantastic William Alabaster heat-changing mug.

Just add tea or coffee to watch this cool Catholic become a hot Protestant! Or chill your mug and see him return to Rome!

One thing is for sure, if you drink from this ever-changing convert your beverage will never be lukewarm!

Hover your mouse over the image below to see this must-have mug in action.


Mug also comes in Theophilus Higgons, Richard Crashaw and Thomas Becon.

**SPECIAL OFFER: Buy today and get the ‘ambidexter’ breakfast bowl free! Perfect for the cereal convert in your life!**

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Visualising Augustine’s Conversion on wordle

Wordle: Augustine2

I’ve just been having fun in Wordle, creating a word cloud for the moment in book 8 of Augustine’s Confessions when he rushes into the garden in Milan, picks up his book (St Pauls epistle to the Romans) and is instantly converted. Some beautiful — and telling — collisions: concupiscence and wantoness; ‘heart arose’; ‘Jesus coming’; chambering and drunkenness; ‘God’, ‘treasure’, ‘open’; rioting and weeping; and — of course! — heard and read. Click on the image above to see a larger version.

A ‘good’ Christian, perhaps, but not a ‘great’ one: David Cameron and the King James Bible

Two weeks before the end of the year which marked the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorized Version of the Bible (popularly known as the King James Bible), the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, joined his voice to the wide variety of commemorative testimonies, telling an audience in Oxford that ‘the King James Bible is as relevant today as at any point in its 400 year history’. Given our participation in the successful York Conference on the Bible in the Seventeenth Century, held in July this year, the Conversion Narratives team have to agree. Yet Cameron’s speech, which has already been singled out by the playwright David Edgar as a continuation of the PM’s attack on multiculturalism, offers a very peculiar version of the KJV, flattening out much of the difficulty and drama of its language, its appropriation, and its politics. Continue reading

In the Archives: an Interview with Craig Harline

The cover of Craig Harline's book on ConversionsCraig Harline’s recently-published Conversions brings together two stories of changing faith: one from the Dutch Reformation, the other from 1970s California. Craig’s book offers an accessible and engaging account both of Jacob Rolandus, the son of a Dutch Reformed preacher, who converted to Catholicism in 1654 and ran away from home, and of ‘Michael Sunbloom’, a young American who converted to Mormonism in 1973, but left the church when he began to explore and embrace his homosexuality.

It is a book about religious change, and about the effects of movement between Churches on both families and wider communities, and closes with a moving plea for the tolerance and understanding needed to understand and interpret these diverse stories.

Craig was kind enough to meet up with the Conversion Narratives team at the recent Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, and to talk to us about a rich range of topics, including the importance of these stories, the role of the historian, the challenges of writing popular history, and his own experiences as a converter. You can listen to the full interview on our project website.

Continue reading

Staging Conversion in the New World


The conquering of the Mexican mainland by Hernán Cortés was accompanied by a systematic programme of conversion of the native peoples undertaken by the Catholic Church. This began in 1524 with the arrival of 12 Franciscan friars who self-concsciously styled themselves as the descendants of Christ’s 12 apostles. The theatrical nature of their efforts to convert the Aztecs began with Cortés’ initial greeting upon their arrival in Tenochtitlán (Mexico City). He kneeled to kiss their hands and garments, immediately signalling his subservience to the friars, a powerful image for the native peoples who had ascribed to Cortés the role of Quetzalcoátl, the feathered serpent god who had a close association with the Aztec priesthood.  Continue reading

Strange bedfellows

An idealised image of a Renaissance schoolmaster

A story of religious conflict and attempted conversion from the central archive of the Jesuit order:

Before a trip to Rome and a meeting with Diego Laìnez led him to enter the Society of Jesus, Giacomo Cerruti lived a tormented existence as a schoolmaster in the Piemontese countryside, and nothing was more likely to spark his rage and indignation than an encounter with one of the followers of the evangelical churches that populated the alpine valleys. Continue reading