By Kristy Nabhan-Warren
"This book stands as an intimate portrait of the visionary; 'a woman torn between the individualism she enjoyed in the 'Anglo world' and her familial commitments in her Mexican-American home.'" - Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion "This is a respectful, sensitive, clearly written book in which the author seeks to resolve the alien ethnographer's dilemma by 'writing like a relative.' The reader's reward is a rich sense of the circumstances and struggles of at least some Mexican Americans in South Phoenix to make a good life in the contemporary United States that balances faith and family with education, material strivings, professional growth, discrimination, and personal suffering in ways that begin to bridge the conceptual divide between offical and popular religion." - American Ethnologist
In 1998, a Mexican American woman named Estela Ruiz began seeing visions of the Virgin Mary in south Phoenix. The apparitions and messages spurred the creation of Mary's Ministries, a Catholic evangelizing group, and its sister organization, ESPIRITU, which focuses on community-based initiatives and social justice for Latinos/as. Based on ten years of participant observation and in-depth interviews,The Virgin of El Barriotraces the spiritual transformation of Ruiz, the development of the community that has sprung up around her, and the international expansion of their message. Their organizations blend popular and official Catholicism as well as evangelical Protestant styles of praise and worship, shedding light on Catholic responses to the tensions between popular and official piety and the needs of Mexican Americans.