(923 words)

1. Historical background

Anathema or excommunication indicates the exclusion of a baptized person from the congregation of the faithful, pronounced as part of the Church’s power of the keys, that is, its power to forgive sins or to deny forgiveness (derived from Mt 16:19). In the Early Modern Period, the term anathema was used predominantly in the Protestant churches, while the term excommunicati…

Cite this page
Birr, Christiane, “Anathema”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Executive editor of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy. Consulted online on 24 March 2018 <>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160321

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