Pilgrimage in Latin America

Pilgrimage in Latin America

Pilgrimage in Latin America

Pilgrimage in Latin America

Synopsis

In every region of Latin America there are sacred shrines that draw tens of thousands of pilgrims. At present, most of these pilgrimages are overtly Catholic, but the roots of the contemporary practice are numerous: European Christian, indigenous pre-Columbian, African slave, and other religious traditions. This volume explores the historical development, range of diversity, and the structure and impacts of pilgrimage in Latin America. It is among the first to create a general framework for understanding this religious practice. Although the contributors' focus is predominantly anthropological, analytical perspectives are drawn from numerous disciplines.

Excerpt

Luis Millones

Since pilgrimage represents a universal experience, its meaning has been enriched by the history and culture of all the peoples who compose the human family. Even though Latin America has been closely associated with the West since the sixteenth century it also has contributed its own surviving autochthonous components. These elements not only have been incorporated into developed Christian traditions, but also have been interwoven in diverse ways throughout the continent.

In some pilgrimage centers, the traditional pre-Christian power of the sanctuary prevails over the European gods and languages and maintains the flow of pilgrims who repeat with little modification the rituals observed by their ancient ancestors. in other centers, the evangelizing passion of the missionaries seems to have been divinely justified by miraculous apparitions of saints and virgins. Their presence weakens the continued traditional functioning of ancient shrines. However, each pilgrim will construct his or her specific ideological synthesis, which will lie between these two poles, that then provides the basis for their decision to visit the divinity. Thus to some degree the traditions that are found between these extremes will almost always reflect the orientation of the individual believers.

One of the difficulties faced in editing a book based on this theme lies in the absence of a satisfactory method for the controlled comparison of . . .

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