Oratorian History in Mexico City, 1659-1821: A Political Culture of Religious Identity Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Reed, Benjamin
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation adds fresh insights into the creation of popular religion in colonial Mexico, beginning in the most neglected time period -- the seventeenth century -- and by conducting original research on the most neglected religious authorities of the Catholic Church: the secular clergy. I draw from diverse manuscript and print sources gathered from more than thirty archives in Mexico, Spain, the United States, Chile, Germany and England to trace a continuous thread of Oratorian identity across a dynamic set of institutional cultures in Mexico City. Oratorians worked along the cultural and spatial borderlands of colonial Mexico City, experimenting with innovative and controversial forms of Catholic ritual and adapting a religious culture in the throes of the Catholic Reformation to appeal to subjects long marginalized by the normative authorities. Wealthy and poor women, new Catholic subjects of Indigenous and African descent, and a broadly burgeoning Hispanic lay population eagerly embraced opportunities offered by Oratorians to take active roles in the interpretation and practice of their own religion. Oratorian religion opens access to new ways of understanding the role of Catholicism in Early Modern society, at once alongside a wide array of spiritual traditions alive in the Americas, out from under the definitional thumb of Protestant frameworks of religious studies, and shed of its hierarchical relationship designed by the political culture of world religions. Oratorian identity was a dynamic culture in colonial Mexico City that used Catholic spirituality and its priesthood to shape the formation of the colonial state through printed and manuscript documents, oil paintings, material texts and church architecture.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Sigal, Peter
  • Bilinkoff, Jodi
  • Burns, Kathryn
  • Olcott, Jocelyn
  • Boon, Jessica
  • Radding, Cynthia
  • Chasteen, John Charles
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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