Browse Exhibits (3 total)
Originally exhibited December 12, 2012–May 10, 2013
Manuals of Christian doctrine, catechisms are often organized in the form of questions with accompanying answers to be learned and memorized. This extremely popular and accessible genre for conveying fundamental religious teachings was utilized by both Protestant and Catholic authors beginning in the sixteenth century, and continues to be an introductory source for Christian instruction today. Included in this exhibition are works published between the sixteenth and nineteenth century with examples of texts for the youngest readers, more advanced students, and adults.
Bridwell Library acquired its collection of nearly 400 Mexican religious imprints under the directorship of Jerry Campbell in the 1980s from the University of California in Los Angeles. The majority of the collection originates from the holdings of Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro, a private collector and former mayor of San Francisco who purchased thousands of publications in 1889 from Eufemio Abadiano, the unwilling heir to the Abadiano printing dynasty of Mexico City. The Abadiano family could directly trace its printing legacy back through the most prominent printers of nineteenth century Mexico City all the way to Juan José de Eguiara y Eguren, who founded the Biblioteca Mexicana publishing house in 1753. The family had, therefore, accumulated thousands of periodicals, serials, government publications, and pamphlets spanning over a century of Mexican history. As the Abadiano family and its predecessors were known to be highly religious and conservative, an overwhelming majority of the pamphlets bought by Sutro documented the activities and concerns of the Catholic Church, arguably the most powerful and consistent institution in Mexico from the Conquest in 1521 to the Revolution in 1910.
This collection of printed ephemera, the oldest document of which dates to 1719 and the most recent to 1968, illustrates both the revolutionary changes and the subtle continuities that the Catholic Church of Mexico experienced through this turbulent 250 year period. Within it can be seen the obligations of the Church to the Crown during the colonial period, the challenges to ecclesiastic authority during the independence movement, the bitter disputes between liberals and conservatives during the Reform Era, and the drastic decline of the Church's power in secular matters after the Revolution. The authors contained in the collection represent all levels of the clergy, from archbishops to priests to mendicants, as well as independent citizens and the printers themselves. In addition to the official sermons, pastoral letters, orders of worship, and papal bulls issued by the leaders of the Church, the collection incorporates a wide array of pious hymns, poetry, prayers, catechisms, and devotional exercises, written and widely distributed so that people from every stratum of society could daily partake in religious worship and, in doing so, bring themselves closer to achieving God's salvation. While the works in Bridwell's collection certainly document the complexities of the Mexican Catholic Church's doctrines, politics, and the concerns of those at the top of its hierarchy, these imprints reveal much more about the popular piety of a deeply religious people as it changed over time.
Originally exhibited December 7, 2011–May 7, 2012
This exhibition surveys Catholic devotional beliefs and practices in Mexico in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as documented in images, novenas, sacred poetry, historical accounts, and a variety of other sources. In addition to public worship, personal and community devotion was an active element of spiritual life which served to complement and supplement Church rituals and liturgy.
Apparitions of various manifestations of the Virgin Mary, particularly the Virgin of Guadalupe, were the most popular focus for these devotions. Other highly venerated images included those representing the crucified Jesus, such as the statue found in the pilgrimage site at Chalma and the crucifix located in a church in Orizaba. The roles of faith and devotion in the lives of individuals and their communities can also be seen in the activities of late colonial confraternities, social and mutual-assistance organizations represented here by certificates issued to members, and the use of late nineteenth-century devotional handbills, often issued in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. These ephemeral religious works, providing aid for the faithful, also serve to document the long tradition of popular faith in Mexico.