The cultural politics of episcopal power: Juan de Palafox y Mendoza and Tridentine Catholicism in seventeenth-century Puebla de Los Angeles, Mexico
AuthorBrescia, Michael Manuel
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMy dissertation explores the episcopal dimensions of power as exercised by one of the more polemical figures in Mexico's colonial past, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza. Known to historians as the seventeenth-century bishop-viceroy who challenged the political, economic, and social standing of the Society of Jesus, Palafox also instituted broad ecclesiastical reforms that transformed the local spirituality of Indians and Spaniards into a new Tridentine Catholicism. While I examine the institutional sources of Palafox's episcopal power, namely the decrees of the Council of Trent, I conceive of my dissertation as a cultural history of Church power and authority in the daily lives of Indians and Spaniards in colonial Mexico. Bishop Palafox wielded his crozier, or shepherd's staff, to activate conciliar reforms in the Diocese of Puebla, an exercise that influenced the ways in which the laity experienced the sacramental and the profane. Moreover, I analyze the broad range of cultural changes that illuminate both the extraordinary and routine dimensions of Palafox's pastoral sentiment, such as daily prayer life, episcopal visitation, seminary education, overhauling the material conditions of parish churches, jurisdictional conflicts with the monastic orders and the Society of Jesus, as well as the bishop's efforts to harness the financial and human resources of the diocese to construct the material symbol of his office, the Cathedral of Puebla. Finally, I assess the bishop's capacity to structure the broader political and material contexts of Catholic culture in Mexico.
Degree ProgramGraduate College