In seventeenth-century Lima, pious Catholic women gained profound theological understanding and enacted expressions of spiritual devotion by engaging with a wide range of sacred texts and objects, as well as with one another, their families, and ecclesiastical authorities. In Embodying the Sacred, Nancy E. van Deusen considers how women created and navigated a spiritual existence within the colonial city's complex social milieu. Through close readings of diverse primary sources, van Deusen shows that these women recognized the divine—or were objectified as conduits of holiness—in innovative and powerful ways: dressing a religious statue, performing charitable acts, sharing interiorized spiritual visions, constructing autobiographical texts, or offering their hair or fingernails to disciples as living relics. In these manifestations of piety, each of these women transcended the limited outlets available to them for expressing and enacting their faith in colonial Lima, and each transformed early modern Catholicism in meaningful ways.
About the author
Nancy E. van Deusen is Professor of History at Queen’s University; author of Global Indios: The Indigenous Struggle for Justice in Sixteenth-Century Spain, also published by Duke University Press, and Between the Sacred and the Worldly: The Institutional and Cultural Practice of Recogimiento in Colonial Lima; and editor of The Souls of Purgatory: The Spiritual Diary of a Seventeenth-Century Afro-Peruvian Mystic, Ursula de Jesús.
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