shocks of nature, and more likely to invoke their special saints and throng their favourite shrines than were the rich. Most of the fiestas were organised by particular peasant, mining or artisan groups, who sought the protection of a popular saint or the Virgin. In some cases blacks and mulattos had their own fiestas, Indians their special feast days.

The Catholics of Colombia took their religion not only into the churches but also into the streets, and popular religiosity was expressed in civic as well as pious events: in Medellin in 1875 a procession marking a civil occasion included magistrates, lawyers, doctors and professional associations, and 'in front marched the Asociación del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús'.10 Religious fervour took other forms than pious women in black hurrying to early-morning mass. Faith promoted works of charity and kept the richer families concerned with the needs of the poor and helpless; the faith fulfilled secular as well as spiritual expectations. Seats were full not only in churches but also in libraries, lecture rooms, and other cultural venues where people searched for a better life, and in doing so contributed further to social integration.

In Mexico and Guatemala, countries with large Indian populations, practised and prescribed religion more or less merged, and the main disquiet of the church concerned denial and superstition rather than popular or local practices. Church authorities in Peru looked with suspicion on many of the religious practices of Andean Indians. In 1912 the bishop of Puno, Valentín Ampuero, described the religion of the Indians as distorted by ignorance: 'their religious beliefs are minimal, their Christianity is adulterated and consists in having a mass said, or praying before a saint's image on occasion of illness or death in the family or loss of a llama'.11 Yet masses and prayers were Catholic practices, legacies of past evangelisation, and signs of present faith.

The Romanisation of the Latin American church

The doctrinal inspiration of the Latin American church in the nineteenth century came from Rome, and standards were set by Pope Pius IX (1846-78), who in December 1864 published the encyclical Quanta Cura, with its annex the Syllabus of Errors.12 Catholics in Latin America easily recognised the 'errors', for they lived with them daily: liberalism, secularism, freedom ofthought, and toleration. The encyclical focused the attention of Latin American Catholics obsessively on liberalism, rationalism and laicismo (exclusion of religion from

10 Londoño-Vega, Religion, culture, and society in Colombia, p. 163.

11 Jeffrey Klaiber, 'La reorganization de la Iglesia', in HGIAL, vol. viii (1987), p. 301.

12 See chapters 2 and 15 above.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment