Guadalupe and Her Faithful: Latino Catholics in San Antonio from Colonial Origins to the Present

Article excerpt

Guadalupe and Her Faithful: Latino Catholics in San Antonio from Colonial Origins to the Present. By Timothy Matovina. [Lived Religions Series.] (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. Pp. xviii, 232. $60.00 hardcover, $22.95 paperback.)

From its founding in 1718, San Antonio, Texas, has been an ethnically mixed and culturally diverse community that has undergone numerous transformations to produce today's colorful and distinctive city. At its heart-literally-has been San Fernando parish, Timothy Matovina's focus area in his study of Hispanic Catholics in the Alamo City. The choice of San Fernando is natural, since it was Texas's principal Catholic parish from Spanish colonial times well into the nineteenth century. As San Antonio grew and new parishes opened, and even following San Fernando's elevation to cathedral in 1874, the parish remained firmly rooted in its Mexican ethnicity and its Guadalupan devotion. Over time the expression of that devotion changed in response to circumstances, including in the parish's ecclesiastic leadership, which included French and Spanish clergy before the appearance of Mexican American priests and bishops in recent times.

Blending social and religious history, Matovina binds everything up in a sympathetic analysis of "lived religion" among San Antonio's Mexican Americans. In a useful introduction, he provides an overview of the controversy regarding the Virgin's 1531 apparition to the Indian Juan Diego, who subsequently brought Bishop Juan de Zumárraga proof in the form of the image venerated today at Tepeyac. While scholars may debate what the absence of any reference to the apparition in Bishop Zumárraga's writings might mean, "Millions of devotees have no doubt about the authenticity of the apparition narrative and the miraculous origins of the Guadalupe image" (p. 3). There follow discussions of how the Guadalupan tradition has evolved over the centuries and how it has manifested itself in San Antonio. …