History •  Latin America and Religion

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Marvels and Miracles in Late Colonial Mexico: Three Texts in Context

William Taylor

Miracles, signs of divine presence and intervention, have been esteemed by Christians, especially Catholic Christians, as central to religious belief. During the second half of the eighteenth century Spain's Bourbon dynasty sought to tighten its control over New World colonies, reform imperial institutions, and change the role of the church and religion in colonial life. As a result, miracles were recognized and publicized sparingly by the church hierarchy and colonial courts were increasingly reluctant to recognize the events. Despite this lack of official encouragement, stories of amazing healings, rescues, and acts of divine retribution abounded throughout Mexico.

Consisting of three rare documents about miracles from this period, each accompanied by an introductory essay, this study serves as a source book and complement to the author's Shrines and Miraculous Images: Religious Life in Mexico Before the Reforma.


William B. Taylor is Muriel McKevitt Sonne professor emeritus in the department of history at the University of California, Berkeley.


"An excellent tool for introducing students to the issues facing scholars addressing colonial religious culture."



"Readers interested in the cultural history of popular religion in colonial Spanish America will find the book richly informative. Those interested in methodology will be rewarded with a glimpse of how a masterful scholar engages his sources. Finally, the book is an exemplary work of translation....In sum, Marvels and Miracles amounts to a valedictory contribution to the scholarship on religion in late colonial Spanish America, by a historian who has done much over the last two decades to define the field."


A Contracorriente

"A welcome contribution to the social history of religion in Latin America."


Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

6 x 9 in. 160 pages 2 halftones