Biography of a Mexican Crucifix

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

3.91 (12 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 4 business days
When will my order arrive?


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 (the "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 Indians of Totolapan. In Biography of a Mexican Crucifix, Jennifer Scheper Hughes traces popular devotion to the Cristo Aparecido over five 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 of religion, Latin American history, anthropology, and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 328 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 453.59g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195367073
  • 9780195367072

Review quote

Throughout Hughes proposes a new aesthetic and affective approach to the study of religion....recommended. * CHOICE * This book can help us honor, welcome, and be blessed by their remarkable spiritual culture. * Don H. Compier, Graceland 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. * David Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America, Harvard University * 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 * 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 *show more

About Jennifer Scheper Hughes

Jennifer Scheper Hughes is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at University of California, more

Table of contents

CONTENTS ; 1. Introduction: The Iconography of Suffering ; 2. "Christ Appeared": Material Religion and the Conquest of Mexico ; 3. Performance and Penance: The Cristo and Christian Evangelization ; 4. The Cristo Comes to Life: Lived Religion in Colonial Mexico City ; 5. Repatriation: Christ Comes Again to Totolapan ; 6. The Red Bishop, the Cristo, and the Aesthetics of Liberation ; 7. The Gentle Devotions of a Rebellious People: The Phenomenology of a Santo ; 8. : Beauty and Devotion: Fiesta at the Dawn of a New Millennium ; 9. Conclusions: The Two Souls of Christ Notes ; BIBLIOGRAPHY ; INDEXshow more

Rating details

12 ratings
3.91 out of 5 stars
5 42% (5)
4 25% (3)
3 17% (2)
2 17% (2)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X