Biography of a Mexican Crucifix: Lived Religion and Local Faith from the Conquest to the Present

Biography of a Mexican Crucifix: Lived Religion and Local Faith from the Conquest to the Present

by Jennifer Scheper Hughes
     
 

In 1543, in a small village in Mexico, a group of missionary friars received from a mysterious Indian messenger an unusual carved image of Christ crucified. The friars declared it the most poignantly beautiful depiction of Christ's suffering they had ever seen. Known as the Cristo Aparecido (Christ Appeared). it quickly became one of the most celebrated religious

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Overview

In 1543, in a small village in Mexico, a group of missionary friars received from a mysterious Indian messenger an unusual carved image of Christ crucified. The friars declared it the most poignantly beautiful depiction of Christ's suffering they had ever seen. Known as the Cristo Aparecido (Christ Appeared). it quickly became one of the most celebrated religious images in colonial Mexico. Today, the Cristo Aparecido is among the oldest New World crucifixes and is the beloved patron saint of the people of Totolapan.

In Biography of a Mexican Crucifix. Jennifer Scheper Hughes traces popular devotion to the Cristo Aparecido over the centuries of Mexican history. Each chapter investigates a single incident in the encounter between believers and the image. Through these historical vignettes. Hughes explores and reinterprets the conquest of and mission to the Indians: the birth of an indigenous, syncretic Christianity: the violent processes of independence and nationalization: and the utopian vision of liberation theology. Hughes reads all of these through the popular devotion to a crucifix that over the centuries becomes a key protagonist in shaping local history and social identity. This book will be welcomed by scholars and students and students of religion. Latin American history, anthropology, and theology.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hughes deftly constructs a convincing and innovative religious history of Mexico told from the perspective of the devotional life of the townspeople...The book is especially great when discussing the aesthetics and emotions associated with Mexican Catholic devotion; indeed, the book significantly contributes to our understanding of Mexican lived religion. Moreover, Hughes' considerable fieldwork adds to her insight and sensitivity into her subjects' experiences. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in material religion as well as religion in Latin America."—Religious Studies Review

"This history of the five-hundred-year odyssey of a Mexican crucifix and its devotees is both scholarly and deeply respectful of local belief. Overcoming the apparent dichotomy between indigenous and Christian practices, Hughes's work shows how this and other Mexican crucifixes are profoundly part of both at the same time. This is an engaged study that allows us analytical distance and yet draws us in to grapple with the meaning it holds for religious life." — Rosemary Radford Ruether, Professor of Theology, Claremont Graduate University

"Jennifer Scheper Hughes shows extraordinary interpretive skill in turning this 'biography of an object,' the Cristo Aparecido of Totolapan, into a scholarly revelation of complex religious devotion in Mexico. Combining the sharpness of a detective story with a new kind of historical writing, humanity and agency are given to all the participants - Spanish priests, indigenous parishioners and historians too! Readers are led to 'draw nearer' to a richer and deeper understanding of how the 'Christ Appeared' stays alive over centuries, through rivalry and violence, tenderness and affection, in the souls of indigenous Mexico. This book is first rate and compelling, humane and scholarly, respectful and insistent, innovative and grounded in the best historical writing of the last decades."— Davíd Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America, Harvard University

"This book can help us honor, welcome, and be blessed by their remarkable spiritual culture."—Don H. Compier, Graceland University

"Throughout Hughes proposes a new aesthetic and affective approach to the study of religion....recommended."—CHOICE

"...well-written and documented, carefully proofread, and enhanced by a number of well known-chosen black-and-white illustrations."—J. Robert Wright, The General Theology Seminary

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195367065
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/27/2010
Pages:
328
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

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