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Alone at the AltarSingle Women and Devotion in Guatemala, 1670-1870$
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Brianna Leavitt-Alcántara

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781503603684

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503603684.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

City of Women, City of God

City of Women, City of God

Poor, Single, and Holy in Santiago de Guatemala

(p.19) Chapter One City of Women, City of God
Alone at the Altar

Brianna Leavitt-Alcántara

Stanford University Press

Chapter 1 examines the hagiography of local holy woman Anna Guerra de Jesús who migrated to Guatemala’s capital in the late seventeenth century. While the early modern Catholic ideal of feminine piety prized enclosure, obedience, and virginity, Anna was neither nun nor virgin, but rather a poor abandoned wife and mother. And although Church decrees clearly required actively religious laywomen to live in cloistered communities, Anna became an independent beata (laywoman who took informal vows) and Jesuit tertiary. This chapter explores Anna’s lived religious experience as a poor migrant and abandoned wife and mother, her engagement with female mysticism and devotional networks, and her alliances with powerful priests and religious orders. It also places Anna’s story within the context of late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century Santiago de Guatemala, particularly urban demographic shifts and social tensions, as well as movements for spiritual renewal and enthusiastic lay female piety.

Keywords:   Anna Guerra de Jesús, hagiography, beata, Jesuit, tertiary, Guatemala, Catholic Church, female mysticism

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