Answered Prayers: Miracles and Milagros Along the Border

Overview

When Catholics in the Southwest ask God or a saint for help, many of them do not merely pray. They also promise or present a gift—a tiny metal object known as a milagro. A milagro, which means "miracle" in Spanish, depicts the object for which a miracle is sought, such as a crippled leg or a new house. Milagros are offered for everything people pray for, and so they can represent almost anything imaginable—arms, lungs, hearts, and eyes; men, women, and children; animals, cars, boats—even lost handbags and ...

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Overview

When Catholics in the Southwest ask God or a saint for help, many of them do not merely pray. They also promise or present a gift—a tiny metal object known as a milagro. A milagro, which means "miracle" in Spanish, depicts the object for which a miracle is sought, such as a crippled leg or a new house. Milagros are offered for everything people pray for, and so they can represent almost anything imaginable—arms, lungs, hearts, and eyes; men, women, and children; animals, cars, boats—even lost handbags and imprisoned men. In Answered Prayers, the Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Tohono O'odham, and Yaquis who practice this tradition share their stories of unwavering faith and divine intervention. Anthropologist and photographer Eileen Oktavec has spent more than two decades documenting this fascinating tradition in the Arizona-Mexico borderlands. Quoting extensive interviews, she explains the beliefs of the people who perform this ancient folk ritual and the many rules guiding this practice. She also describes the many places where milagros are offered—from the elaborate Mexican baroque Mission San Xavier near Tucson, Arizona, to tiny household shrines and hospitals on both sides of the border. Oktavec also explains how milagros are made, where they are bought, and how they are used in jewelry, sculpture, and art.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The custom of making small artifacts and leaving them in churches, as a method of offering thanks or requesting divine intervention, has long been a part of religious worship. This practice is particularly important among the Catholic Hispanic and Native American populations of Arizona and northern Mexico. Oktavec, who has studied the practice for over 20 years, describes its European genesis but focuses primarily on the Native and Hispanic influences. Her interviews with persons leaving the objects at churches form the basis for her study. She also evaluates collections of the artifacts, called milagros (miracles), from two churches. Oktavec's volume is the most extensive study of this religious practice available. It will obviously be important to researchers of the Catholic Church and the Southwest. Yet it is not overly academic and will be of interest to the general reader interested in the topic.Mark L. Grover, Brigham Young Univ., Provo, Utah
Booknews
A look into General Motors politics and economics focusing on Jack Smith whose controversial "fundamental change" strategies turned the company around as bankruptcy loomed on the horizon. Maynard (USA Today Detroit Bureau Chief) interviews the key players, including Roger Smith, Robert Stempel, and other GM employees to chart the roller coaster movement of GM, and anticipates its future leaders and what changes wait in the wings if the company intends to survive. Includes photographs. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816515813
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1995
  • Series: Southwest Center Series
  • Pages: 239
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Eileen Oktavec first became interested in milagros when she was a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Arizona. She lives in Goffstown, New Hampshire, and returns to Arizona each year to conduct research.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Milagros and the Cult of St. Francis 3
Ch. 1 Offerings and Answered Prayers 21
Ch. 2 Offering Sites throughout the Sonoran Region 43
Ch. 3 Buying a Milagro 73
Ch. 4 Stamping, Engraving, and Casting Milagros 93
Ch. 5 From Heads to Handcuffs: Many Kinds of Milagros 119
Ch. 6 What Becomes of Milagros? 155
Ch. 7 The New Milagro Art 167
Ch. 8 The Future of Milagros 177
Appendix 193
Notes 201
Bibliography 219
Index 227
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