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Trouble With Miracles: An Episode In The Culture And Politics Of Wonder In Colonial Mexico

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Chapter Summary

Miracles those signs of divine presence and intervention in the world that defy ordinary experience of cause and effect have been a defining belief in the history of Christianity. Christian shrines of the Middle Ages and Catholic shrines since the sixteenth century are famous for marvelous healings and protection that mark them as special places of transparency between devotees and the divine. Miracles validated Christianity as a living faith of transcendent power and protection, but they also spilled out in directions that invited false prophets and undermined the dream of a universal Christian church in a time of sectarian divisions. Ex-voto paintings are especially approachable, personal artifacts of faith in the miraculous for colonial Mexico. Miracle stories were not universally celebrated and promoted in later eighteenth century as they had been in the seventeenth century. Clerical and lay promoters of shrines and miracle stories might encourage and shape the canon of miracles.

Keywords: Christian shrines; Colonial Mexico; Ex-voto paintings



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