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Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531-1797
By Stafford Poole
325 pp. / 6.00 in x 9.00 in / 1995
Paper (978-0-8165-1623-0)
Related Interest
  - Philosophy and Religion
  - Latin American Studies
  - History

The devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, based on the story of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, an Indian neophyte, at the hill of Tepeyac in December 1531, is one of the most important
The most complete and thorough study of the Guadalupan tradition to date, this is also an outstanding representation of the historian's art. It sensitively probes every available reference to the devotion and apparition stories related to the Lady of Guadalupe Shrine near Mexico City. . . . Highly recommended for every sort of library.


Lively and engaging. [Poole's] careful scrutiny of sources paves the way for a revealing and sensitive cultural history of colonial Mexico. . . . An important book, one that will endure.

—American Historical Review

[Poole] highlights the relevant aspects of [his] sources, listing and describing the innumerable manuscripts, together with the events and personalities of the time. . . . This study is the most thorough and daring of its kind available in any language.


Poole's analysis of the sources provides a fascinating step-by-step view of an evolving tradition.


Provides an important insight into the development of Mexican national identity . . . [and] illustrates the way in which careful scholarly research can lay bare the roots of a phenomenon.

—Sixteenth Century Journal

formative religious and national symbols in the history of Mexico. In this first work ever to examine in depth every historical source of the Guadalupe apparitions, Stafford Poole traces the origins and history of the account, and in the process challenges many commonly accepted assumptions and interpretations.

Poole finds that, despite common belief, the apparition account was unknown prior to 1648, when it was first published by a Mexican priest. And then, the virgin became the predominant devotion not of the Indians, but of the criollos, who found in the story a legitimization of their own national aspirations and an almost messianic sense of mission and identity. Poole finds no evidence of a contemporary association of the Virgin of Guadalupe with the Mexican goddess Tonantzin, as is frequently assumed, and he rejects the common assertion that the early missionaries consciously substituted Guadalupe for a preconquest deity.

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