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Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531–1797
by Stafford Poole
University of Arizona Press, 1995
Paper: 978-0-8165-1623-0 | Cloth: 978-0-8165-1526-4
Library of Congress Classification BT660.G8P66 1995
Dewey Decimal Classification 232.917097253

The devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, based on the story of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, an Indian neophyte, at the hill of Tepeyac in December 1531, is one of the most important formative religious and national symbols in the history of Mexico. In this first work ever to examine in depth every historical source of the Guadalupe apparitions, Stafford Poole traces the origins and history of the account, and in the process challenges many commonly accepted assumptions and interpretations. Poole finds that, despite common belief, the apparition account was unknown prior to 1648, when it was first published by a Mexican priest. And then, the virgin became the predominant devotion not of the Indians, but of the criollos, who found in the story a legitimization of their own national aspirations and an almost messianic sense of mission and identity. Poole finds no evidence of a contemporary association of the Virgin of Guadalupe with the Mexican goddess Tonantzin, as is frequently assumed, and he rejects the common assertion that the early missionaries consciously substituted Guadalupe for a preconquest deity.

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