components of urban life as well as rural life, serving both corporate and private purposes. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century celebrations of Corpus Christi in Cuzco and Mexico City, for example, joined all ethnic elements in active collaboration for the common communal purpose and gave religious affirmation to the hierarchies of both the individual ethnic orders and colonial society as a whole.
Celebrations were just as colourful and multifaceted in the towns as they were in rural areas. The main difference was that priests and ecclesiastical institutions had greater control over urban religiosity Ironically, when Bourbon bureaucrats attempted to suppress these urban celebrations in the later eighteenth century, they never described them as 'pagan Bacchanalia' - a term commonly used for the rural equivalent - no doubt because Hispanic elites were prominent participants in the towns. Rather, they emphasized the disorders they caused and the unproductive expenditure of money by the poor that could be better spent on feeding families. The attacks on urban processions and festivals, however, led to an unexpected response. In the very late colonial period, Creole religious and social elites turned the defence of processions and communal religiosity into a form of political resistance.
Indigenous political movements, likewise, mobilized support with appeals to Catholic religious sentiments. The Kuraka leader, Jose Gabriel Tupac Amaru, whose revolt against Spanish rule in Central Peru (1780-82) has been considered one of the most serious upheavals of the late colonial period, used Christian concepts of justice in an attempt to unite Creole and indigenous elites behind his cause. He also compared his movement to the revolt of the Israelites against the Egyptians. His conduct towards the church, moreover, was so deferential that after the revolt was suppressed, the crown exiled the Creole Bishop of Cuzco to Spain because of suspicions of collaboration.
The lack of a racial or cultural divide in religious practice and belief is also apparent in other areas of individual and corporate piety. Inquisition archives provide examples in which hechicería (a pre-columbian healing practice) was described as 'witchcraft' when it involved rural villagers, and as 'superstition' when urban Hispanic elites were the object of investigation. In fact, urbanized Indians and mestizos accepted European spiritual models and institutions in a manner little different from that of the Creole elites. The Creole mystic, Saint Rose of Lima, for example, inspired a whole range of men and women from all ethic groups in Lima and elsewhere. The pursuit of ascetic rigour as an avenue to mystical experience drew Inquisition attention both to the wives of Creole bureaucrats and to illiterate indigenous beatas (holy women). Even after these practices fell out of favour with Enlightened administrators and ecclesiastical
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