In 1980, with the Sandinistas newly in power, tailor and pig farmer Bernardo Martinez witnesses an extraordinary thing: an otherworldly glow about the statue of the Virgin Mary in the church where he works as sacristán. Soon the Holy Virgin appears. She tells Bernardo to forget his money problems and fear of ridicule and spread her message of peace and faith to his neighbors. Though a work of fiction, Bernardo and the Virgin is based on actual events in Bernardo Martinez's life. The visitation of the Virgin Mary at Cuapa, Nicaragua, remains one of the few such events accepted by the Roman Catholic Church in the last sixty years.
Silvio Sirias' sweeping novel tells many stories: that of a humble man touched by the transcendent; that same man as a devout boy denied the priesthood because of poverty; and those in his orbit, past and present. It is also the stormy epic of Nicaragua through the long Somoza years to the Sandinista revolution. Sirias' beautiful language mixes English with Spanish and details of dusty village life with wondrous images of Catholic mysticism. His portrayal of the rich recent past of Central America resonates with the experiences of both the natives and the thriving communities of Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and others putting down roots in the United States.
In 1994, a devout Catholic woman from Vermont began having religious visions and hearing the voice of the Virgin Mary. To spread word about her mystical experiences, she turned to the Internet. As Paolo Apolito records here, she is only one of many people who use the Web as a tool of religious devotion. Every day, thousands of Catholics—from Italy and Latin America to the United States and Bosnia—use the Internet to describe and celebrate apparitions of Mary, to exchange relics and advice in chat rooms, to make pilgrimages to religious Web sites, and to practice the rites of their faith online.
But how has this potent new mix of technology and religiosity changed the way Catholics view their faith? And what challenges do the autonomous qualities of the Internet pose to the broader authority of Catholicism? Does the democratic nature of access to digital technologies constitute a return to a more archaic and mystical form of Catholicism that predates the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council?
In working through these questions, Apolito considers visions of Mary on the Web over the past two decades, revealing a great deal about religion as it is now experienced through new information technologies. The Internet, he explains, has made possible a decentralized community of the devoted, even as it has absorbed God into the shifts and complexities of electronic circuitry. And this profound development in religious life will only accelerate as use of the Internet spreads around the world.
An indispensable guide to the future of Catholicism, The Internet and the Madonna offers a compelling glimpse into the spiritual life of the connected soul.
Penny Schine Gold provides a bold analysis of key literary and artistic images of women in the Middle Ages and the relationship between these images and the actual experience of women. She argues that the complex interactions between men and women as expressed in both image and experience reflect a common pattern of ambivalence and contradiction. Thus, women are seen as both helpful and harmful, powerful and submissive, and the actuality of women's experience encompasses women in control and controlled, autonomous and dependent.
Vividly recreating the rich texture of medieval life, Gold effectively and eloquently goes beyond a simple equation of social context and representation. In the process. she challenges equally simple judgments of historical periods as being either "good" or "bad" for women.
"[The Lady and the Virgin] presents its findings in a form that should attract students as well as their instructors. The careful and controlled use of so many different kinds of sources . . . offers us a valuable medieval case study in the inner-relationship between the segments of society and its ethos or value system."—Joel T. Rosenthal, The History Teacher
"Something of a tour de force in an interdisciplinary approach to history."—Jo Ann McNamara, Speculum
"[A] well-written, extremely well-researched book. . . . The Lady and the Virgin is useful, readable, and well informed."—R. Howard Bloch, Modern Philology
The physical signs of Roman Catholicism pervade the Mexican countryside. Colonial churches and neighborhood chapels, wayside shrines, and mountaintop crosses dot the landscape. Catholicism also permeates the traditional cultures of rural communities, although this ideational influence is less immediately obvious. It is often couched in enigmatic idiom and imagery, and it is further obscured by the vestiges of pagan customs and the anticlerical attitudes of many villagers. These heterodox tendencies have even led some observers to conclude that Catholicism in rural Mexico is little more than a thin veneer on indigenous practice. In Mary, Michael, and Lucifer John M. Ingham attempts to develop a modern semiotic and structuralist interpretation of traditional Mexican culture, an interpretation that accounts for the culture's apparent heterodoxy. Drawing on field research in Tlayacapan, Morelos, a village in the central highlands, he shows that nearly every domain of folk culture is informed with religious meaning. More precisely, the Catholic categories of spirit, nature, and evil compose the basic framework of the villagers' social relations and subjective experiences.
A Mother who nurtures, empathizes, and heals . . . a Warrior who defends, empowers, and resists oppression. . . the Virgin Mary plays many roles for the peoples of Spain and Spanish-speaking America. Devotion to the Virgin inspired and sustained medieval and Renaissance Spaniards as they liberated Spain from the Moors and set about the conquest of the New World. Devotion to the Virgin still inspires and sustains millions of believers today throughout the Americas. This wide-ranging and highly readable book explores the veneration of the Virgin Mary in Spain and the Americas from the colonial period to the present. Linda Hall begins the story in Spain and follows it through the conquest and colonization of the New World, with a special focus on Mexico and the Andean highlands in Peru and Bolivia, where Marian devotion became combined with indigenous beliefs and rituals. Moving into the nineteenth century, Hall looks at national cults of the Virgin in Mexico, Bolivia, and Argentina, which were tied to independence movements. In the twentieth century, she examines how Eva Perón linked herself with Mary in the popular imagination; visits contemporary festivals with significant Marian content in Spain, Peru, and Mexico; and considers how Latinos/as in the United States draw on Marian devotion to maintain familial and cultural ties.
Our Lady of Victorian Feminism is about three nineteenth-century women, Protestants by background and feminists by conviction, who are curiously and crucially linked by their extensive use of the Madonna in arguments designed to empower women.
In the field of Victorian studies, few scholars have looked beyond the customary identification of the Christian Madonna with the Victorian feminine ideal—the domestic Madonna or the Angel in the House. Kimberly VanEsveld Adams shows, however, that these three Victorian writers made extensive use of the Madonna in feminist arguments. They were able to see this figure in new ways, freely appropriating the images of independent, powerful, and wise Virgin Mothers.
In addition to contributions in the fields of literary criticism, art history, and religious studies, Our Lady of Victorian Feminism places a needed emphasis on the connections between the intellectuals and the activists of the nineteenth-century women's movement. It also draws attention to an often neglected strain of feminist thought, essentialist feminism, which proclaimed sexual equality as well as difference, enabling the three writers to make one of their most radical arguments, that women and men are made in the image of the Virgin Mother and the Son, the two faces of the divine.