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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: 22 May 2022

Unlikely Allies

Unlikely Allies

Missionaries and Laywomen

(p.41) Chapter Two Unlikely Allies
Alone at the Altar

Brianna Leavitt-Alcántara

Stanford University Press

Evidence from wills highlight the striking number of non-elite women living outside of marriage who successfully professed as lay Franciscan tertiaries, that is, as members of the powerful Franciscan Third Order. Chapter 2 explores how and why priests in Guatemala’s colonial capital, especially Franciscans and Jesuits, allied with poor single and widowed laywomen and supported active and unenclosed female religiosity. Santiago de Guatemala’s status as a distant provincial capital, removed from the Inquisition’s close oversight and without the institutional resources necessary to enforce female enclosure, led to greater tolerance of lay female religiosity and single women compared to larger cities like Mexico City and Lima. At the same time, global missionary movements forged diverse models of female piety and sustained support for active female ministries. These findings suggest the need to modify interpretations of early modern Catholicism as primarily hostile towards single women and lay female religiosity.

Keywords:   wills, laywomen, Guatemala, Third Order, Franciscan, Jesuit, Catholic Church, missionaries, single women

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