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Posted March 8, 2006

Book: Guadalupe and her Faithful: Latino Catholics in San Antonio, from Colonial Origins to the Present
Author: Timothy Matovina
The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 2005, pp.232

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the most revered religious figure in Mexican Catholicism. Devotion to Guadalupe among Mexicans and Mexican Americans has evolved for nearly five centuries into a deeply rooted, multifaceted tradition. Here, religion scholar Timothy Matovina offers a thorough study of this tradition as it has been lived out by the parishioners of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas. He shows how the devotion to Guadalupe sustained this congregation through times of political turmoil, war and peace, and ecclesiastical and social changes over San Antonio’s long history from an agricultural settlement on the northern edge of New Spain to a dynamic U.S. metropolis.

Engaging recent scholarly analysis of ritual studies, lived religion, Latino theology and history, transnationalism, and ethnicity, Guadalupe and Her Faithful shows how religious traditions shape and are shaped by a faith community’s shifting contexts and power dynamics. This fascinating account reveals the potential force — and the potential limitations — of devotion in people’s lives and religious imagination.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Clearly mestizaje – the blending of traditions, cultures, and peoples – is an ambiguous and complex process. Guadalupan devotees at San Fernando [parish] exhibit a wide array of understandings about how Guadalupe accompanies and guides them as they forge their lives in the pluralistic society of the United States. For example, though some community leaders, like La Prensa’s writers, continued to promote the “traditional qualities of the Mexican woman,” which stemmed from the Guadalupan “Marian cult and her constancy at home,” after World War II ethnic Mexican women at San Antonio became increasingly involved in public activism for Mexican American rights, in political campaigns, and later in elective bodies like the city council. A growing number of women at San Fernando, particularly professional women, perceive Guadalupe as a model for and supporter of their expanding public roles and their work outside the home – an understanding of Guadalupe largely absent from the testimonies of male devotees. As parish leader Ester Rodriguez observes, “Guadalupe gives you dignity to go places you haven’t been before.”

Table of Contents:

1. “Nuestra Madre Querida”
2. Patroness of la Frontera, 1731-1836
3. Defender of Dignidad, 1836-1900
4. Companion in el Exilio, 1900-1940
5. Celestial Mestiza, 1940-2003

Epilogue: The Future of Guadalupan Devotion