Memories of Religious Ritual and Prayer in Older People's Lives


  • Peter G. Coleman
  • John H. Spreadbury


Although religious memories can often be central to meaning giving, they have received relatively little attention within the study of reminiscence. In a comparative study of older people’s memories of ritual in Eastern and Western Europe we have been able to highlight a number of important features of memories of religious ritual and prayer in later life. These include: the abiding influence of childhood experiences; the supportive role of religious attitudes in bereavement and reconciliation; resistance to forced change in practices; and the role of older people themselves as the custodians of ritual. Our study has also shown how greater respect for religious ritual evident in Bulgaria and Romania, in contrast to England, may reflect negative memories of secular ritual that was developed under communist rule and the deeper family and community ties associated with religious ritual.






Special Section: Perspectives on Reminiscence and Life Review