Leonard Norman Primiano

Leonard Norman Primiano is Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pennsylvania. He has a foundation in religious studies and folklore and folklife studies, and teaches courses on the history of Christianity, vernacular religion, religious folklife, contemporary moral problems, and contemporary American religion.

In 2010, he was selected to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities-supported Summer Fellowship program “Broadening the Digital Humanities,” held at the Vectors-IML/UC-HRI Summer Institute at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Multimedia Literacy. He is also writing and producing the documentary film “I Know You Are God: The Marriage of Father and Mother Divine.

He has served as the developer and curator of Cabrini's Religious Folk, Popular, Liturgical Arts Collection since its inception in 2002. Primiano was elected to the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society for a three-year term in January 2011. He is the co-chair of the Folk Belief and Religious Folklife chapter of the American Folklore Society.

His research areas include American religion; vernacular, folk, and popular religion; American folklore and folklife studies; religious material culture (including Roman Catholic “holy cards”); and religion and the media, including Catholicism and television.

Recent and upcoming publications include:

  • “Manifestations of the Religious Vernacular: Ambiguity, Power, and Creativity,” inVernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief, eds. Marion Bowman and Ulo Valk (Equinox Pub., 2012:382-394)
  • “‘And as we dine. We sing and praise God’: Father and Mother Divine’s Theologies of Food” in Religion, Food, and Eating in North America, eds. Ben Zeller, Marie Dallam, Nora Rubel (Columbia University Press, 2014:42-67).
  • “Artifacts of Belief: Holy Cards in Roman Catholic Culture” in Experiencing Religion, Clara Saraiva, ed. (Lit-Verlag: in press)
  • “Kitsch and Religion” in Companion to Religion and Popular Culture, John Lyden and Eric Mazur, eds. (Routledge Press, in press)
  • “Bayside Apparitions; Ex-Votos; Retablos” in Miracles: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Supernatural Events from Antiquity to the Present, Patrick J. Hayes, ed. (ABC-CLIO, in press)
  • General Editor, A Cultural History of Religion. 6 Volumes. Bloomsbury Press; (in preparation)
  • Editor, Volume 6: A Cultural History of Religion: In the Modern Age Bloomsbury Press; (in preparation)
  • Editor, Vernacular Catholicism: Essays in Folkloristic Ethnography. University of Utah Press: Folklore and Religion Series (in preparation)
  • Editor, Folklife Studies. University of Utah Press (in preparation)


Contributions by Leonard Norman Primiano


Studying Vernacular Religion in the US

Vernacular religion is a subject which fascinates us here at the RSP, because in keeping with our critical perspective, it challenges that idea that neat categorical boundaries may be drawn, and reminds us that when attempts are made to draw them, particular interests are being served.