The Origins of Mexican Catholicism

Nahua Rituals and Christian Sacraments in Sixteenth-Century Mexico
Osvaldo F. Pardo
Offers a nuanced account of the evangelization in the Americas of the sixteenth century


Countering the traditional view that colonial coercion was the driving force behind the religious conversion of the native population in sixteenth-century Mexico, The Origins of Mexican Catholicism shows how Spanish missionaries in fact drew on existing native ceremonies in order to make Christianity more accessible to the Nahua population they were trying to convert. Osvaldo F. Pardo illustrates the complex negotiations that took place in the process of making the Christian sacraments available to the native peoples and that, at the same time, forced the missionaries to reexamine the meanings of their sacraments through the eyes of an alien culture.

For Spanish missionaries, ritual not only became a focus of evangelical concern but also opened a window to the social world of the Nahuas. Missionaries were able to delve into the Nahuas' notions of self, emotions, and social and cosmic order. By better understanding the sociological aspects of Nahua culture, Christians learned ways to adequately convey their religion through mutual understanding instead of merely by oppression.

Osvaldo F. Pardo is Associate Professor of Modern and Classical Languages at the University of Connecticut, specializing in colonial Spanish American literature and culture.

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Copyright © 2004, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 288pp.
  • 28 B&W photograph section.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2006
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03184-9

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  • $29.95 U.S.