Mary, Mother and Warrior: The Virgin in Spain and the Americas

Mary, Mother and Warrior: The Virgin in Spain and the Americas

Mary, Mother and Warrior: The Virgin in Spain and the Americas

Mary, Mother and Warrior: The Virgin in Spain and the Americas


"Linda Hall presents an outstanding comparative work on Spanish and American devotion to Mary. She skillfully handles a diversity of Marian imagery, moving with ease from one instance to the next, describing the theological, dogmatic, and even regional differences of each cult.... The book makes for a valuable and fascinating read." - Theological Studies

"In a brief review it is difficult to do justice to the richness of this book and its insights. It is well researched, well written, and enhanced by illustrations that truly support the text." - The Americas

"The book is an impressive and very welcome contribution to the history of Marian devotion and, more broadly, of religious culture in the Hispanic World." - Journal of Latin American Studies

"... a magnificent overview of the complex phenomenon of Marianism in the Hispanic World, from the Islamic frontier of medieval Spain to the teeming barrios of the American Southwest." - Luis Martín, Kahn Professor Emeritus of History, Southern Methodist University

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.


I have wanted to write this book for years. During the seven years that I spent in Colombia, 1961–1968, I was fascinated with the enormous reverence for the Virgin Mary that pervaded that country. I was particularly intrigued that this reverence crossed gender lines, with men as fervent as women if not more so. in a country troubled terribly by violence, this feminine vision of unconditional love, peace, and forgiveness held a power like no other. in the years since my return, I have observed the same fervor in many other parts of Latin America and among Latino populations in the United States. My years of residence in San Antonio, Albuquerque, and Los Angeles have confirmed that reverence for María is strong on this side of the border as well. Sometimes this fervor is visible; sometimes it is interior, known to me only through conversations with the reverent and from the ubiquitous home altars to her throughout the southwestern United States, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. What has become clear to me is that what I thought of as an image or symbol is, for many Latin Americans and Latinos, a palpable presence, an understanding and giving being to whom access is proximate and immediate. Where did that reverence come from, and why is it so powerful?

My interest has been further and most importantly stimulated by my students. in the past eighteen years of teaching about women in Latin America, I have used the Virgin as a theme of study and have received dozens of thoughtful and often emotional communications about her from my students at Trinity University, the University of New Mexico, and University of California at Los Angeles. I want to share several of those stories here.

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