This exhibition surveys Catholic devotional beliefs and practices in Mexico in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as documented in images, novenas, sacred poetry, historical accounts, and a variety of other sources. In addition to public worship, personal and community devotion was an active element of spiritual life which served to complement and supplement Church rituals and liturgy.
Apparitions of various manifestations of the Virgin Mary, particularly the Virgin of Guadalupe, were the most popular focus for these devotions. Other highly venerated images included those representing the crucified Jesus, such as the statue found in the pilgrimage site at Chalma and the crucifix located in a church in Orizaba. The roles of faith and devotion in the lives of individuals and their communities can also be seen in the activities of late colonial confraternities, social and mutual-assistance organizations represented here by certificates issued to members, and the use of late nineteenth-century devotional handbills, often issued in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. These ephemeral religious works, providing aid for the faithful, also serve to document the long tradition of popular faith in Mexico.