Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Fray Angelico Chavez: Poet, Priest, and Artist

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Fray Angelico Chavez: Poet, Priest, and Artist

Article excerpt

Fray Angelico Chavez: Poet, Priest, and Artist. Edited by Ellen McCracken. [Paso por aqui Series on the Nuevomexicano Literary Heritage.] (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 2000. Pp. xi, 156. $24.95.)

With assistance of nine scholars whose specializations are diverse and far-ranging, Ellen McCracken embarked upon an ambitious, gallant effort to reconstruct from documentary fragments and perspectives the complex life of Fray Angelico Chavez as poet, priest, and artist. The outcome is not a full biography, but a compendium of essays by writers who either knew Fray Angelico personally or who, through analyses of his multi-faceted works, became vicariously acquainted with the subject.

Two of the essays approximated the design of biographical framework. Marc Simmons, prominent southwestern author, tapped a variety of sources (both primary and secondary) to inject imagination, vigor, and depth to Fray Angelico's gradual development as a serious researcher and writer of history. A confrere in New Mexico, Jack Clark Robinson, sorted through a windfall of original materials in the Angelico Chavez File, curated in the Saint John the Baptist Province Archives in Cincinnati, to narrate the educational and spiritual formation of a Franciscan aspirant for the priesthood. Fray Angelico emerged as the first native New Mexican to be ordained in his homeland. Like two sturdy buttresses supporting a massive center, Simmons and Robinson inserted hooks into the biographical scaffolding upon which the other writers suspended their respective essays. In an introductory treatise, "A Rose for Fray Angelico Chavez," the editor provided an intellectual framework for the volume. …

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