Biography of a Mexican crucifix : lived religion and local by Jennifer Scheper Hughes

By Jennifer Scheper Hughes

In 1543, in a small village in Mexico, a gaggle of missionary friars acquired from a mysterious Indian messenger an strange carved photo of Christ crucified. The friars declared it the main poignantly attractive depiction of Christ's affliction they'd ever visible. often called the Cristo Aparecido (the "Christ Appeared"), it quick grew to become some of the most celebrated spiritual photos in colonial Mexico. at the present time, the Cristo Aparecido is likely one of the oldest New international crucifixes and is the liked buyer saint of the Indians of Totolapan.

In Biography of a Mexican Crucifix, Jennifer Scheper Hughes strains well known devotion to the Cristo Aparecido over 5 centuries of Mexican background. every one bankruptcy investigates a unmarried incident within the come upon among believers and the picture. via those historic vignettes, Hughes explores and reinterprets the conquest of and project to the Indians; the beginning of an indigenous, syncretic Christianity; the violent tactics of independence and nationalization; and the utopian imaginative and prescient of liberation theology. Hughes reads all of those during the well known devotion to a crucifix that over the centuries turns into a key protagonist in shaping neighborhood background and social identification. This booklet can be welcomed via students and scholars of faith, Latin American historical past, anthropology, and theology.

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Extra info for Biography of a Mexican crucifix : lived religion and local faith from the conquest to the present

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Rather, among many other meanings and uses, Christians images, including crucifixes, have been for the Indians a protection, buffer, and “shield of arms” against the most damaging consequences of colonization. That is, the process of colonization and its legacy left these communities, in some instances, utterly dependent on the efficacy of these same images for their health, well-being, and even survival. Indigenous devotees in the colonial period and the present have perceived that their collective fate and the fate of their cristos are profoundly linked.

The Spanish Jesuit and naturalist José de Acosta called the maguey, “. . ”46 Indeed, in precolonial Mexico it had both commercial and religious uses. 47 Its course fibers were woven into paper used for sacred codices, and its sharp thorns were used to pierce delicate flesh in Aztec ritual bloodletting. In Mexico to this day, the sap of the maguey is used to make the native fermented drinks pulque and mescal. Nectar from the plant is also boiled into agave syrup, a sugar substitute that health-conscious Californians ladle by sweet spoonfuls into steaming mugs of herbal tea.

Its shape has also been necessarily influenced by the very colonial Latin American texts that I rely upon as sources. Only at the conclusion of the writing did I realize that in some respects I have perhaps unwittingly emulated the friar Alonso Ramos Gavilán’s sweeping seventeenth-century history of the shrine of the Virgin of Copacabana in the Andes, Historia de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana (1621). 17 Like these authors, I grapple with finding a way to explain, understand, and even celebrate the complex phenomenon of indigenous Christianity.

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