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By D. A. Brading

This booklet describes nearly all points of non secular existence in a Mexican diocese within the eighteenth century. It covers the Franciscan missionary faculties, the hot Oratory at San Miguel, new convents and sisterhoods, confraternities and well known faith, the composition and gains of the secular clergy, conflicts within the cathedral bankruptcy, and the involvement of the clergy within the 1810 Insurgency. A vital factor is the conflicts among Church and nation and among the tradition of baroque Catholicism and enlightened despotism.

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Church and State in Bourbon Mexico

This booklet describes nearly all points of non secular existence in a Mexican diocese within the eighteenth century. It covers the Franciscan missionary schools, the recent Oratory at San Miguel, new convents and sisterhoods, confraternities and well known faith, the composition and gains of the secular clergy, conflicts within the cathedral bankruptcy, and the involvement of the clergy within the 1810 Insurgency.

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From the start, the Augustinians celebrated mass with great pomp and circumstance since 'they knew how much the Indians were taken with external ceremonies'. They organised great dances at Easter, adapted confession to the 'little reason' of the natives and, after a Lenten examination of doctrine, admitted them to annual communion. As he wrote his chronicle, Basalenque observed that at Charo the Indians still attended daily prayers, followed by instruction for the children, and maintained a splendid choir and orchestra.

Drawing on materials assembled by a contemporary friar, de la Puente also recounted a number of extraordinary incidents, as when Fray Juan Bautista slipped from a high mountain path only later to be seen climbing up the other side, his body having been sustained by the air. So too, he was once seen to cross a stream by stepping on the back of a complaisant cayman, the Mexican equivalent of a crocodile. Finally, some Spaniards once witnessed him so wrapt in prayer that his feet were clearly elevated above the ground.

At times, their Jesuit expulsion 19 penitential sermons proved so powerful that entire congregations sallied on to the streets, carrying crosses and scourging their flesh in repentance for their sins. Moreover, if the impetus to found these colleges came from the Peninsula, Creole friars soon joined them, and, indeed, came to dominate the aptly named college of Our Lady of Guadalupe at Zacatecas. Nor was their influence limited to spectacular acts of penitence, since the founders of the Oratory at San Miguel el Grande and of the sanctuary at Atotonilco both acknowledged their debt to the Franciscans.

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