This chapter focuses on the contents of sermons and pláticas preached in the Franciscan popular missions. Franciscan missionaries from the apostolic colleges of propaganda fide conducted itinerant preaching campaigns on the streets of hamlets, towns, haciendas, and cities throughout Spain and Spanish America. They were armed with a tailored message aimed at converting sinners and ensuring their eternal salvation. In addition to their doctrinal purpose to convert nominal Catholics, written sermons and pláticas were used as textbooks for missionary training. The chapter first provides an overview of the Franciscan science of oratory—homiletics, the art of religious preaching, or ars praedicandi—before discussing the Franciscan friars' preachings about moral, social, and political virtues. It shows how missionaries viewed colonial society while also providing an idea of the intellectual background of sermon authors.
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