The Black Christ of Esquipulas: Religion and Identity in Guatemala
On the eastern border of Guatemala and Honduras, pilgrims and travelers flock to the Black Christ of Esquipulas, a large statue carved from wood depicting Christ on the cross. The Catholic shrine, built in the late sixteenth century, has become the focal point of admiration and adoration from New Mexico to Panama. Beyond being a site of popular devotion, however, the Black Christ of Esquipulas was also the scene of important debates about citizenship and identity in the Guatemalan nation throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In The Black Christ of Esquipulas, Douglass Sullivan-González explores the multifaceted appeal of this famous shrine, its mysterious changes in color over the centuries, and its deeper significance in the spiritual and political lives of Guatemalans. Reconstructed from letters buried within the restricted Catholic Church archive in Guatemala City, the debates surrounding the shrine reflect the shifting categories of race and ethnicity throughout the course of the country’s political trajectory. This “biography” of the Black Christ of Esquipulas serves as an alternative history of Guatemala and sheds light on some of the most salient themes in Guatemala’s social and political history: state formation, interethnic dynamics, and church-state tensions. Sullivan-González’s study provides a holistic understanding of the relevance of faith and ritual to the social and political history of this influential region.
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The Crucified Christ of Esquipulas
1 Power and Identity in the Making of Colonial Guatemala
2 The Liberal State and the Conservative Church
3 Carrera the Church and the Color of the Christ
4 The Liberal Republic and Religious Competition
5 Revolution Counterrevolution and Religion
6 The Black Christ of Esquipulas
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AGCA AHAG Amerindians Arbenz archbishop argues Barrios Bendaña Perdomo bishop Black Christ Bosquejo histórico Cassab Castejón Cataño Catholic Church Central America challenge Chiquimula Christ image Christ of Esquipulas clergy clerics cofradía colonial color Conservative Copán Cortés y Larraz Creoles Cristo Negro Crucified Christ decade Descripción geográfico-moral Doctrina cristiana eastern Guatemala eighteenth El Salvador emerged Esquip Estrada faith Flores focused forces friars Fuentes y Guzmán Gálvez García Gerardo Barrios Guate Guatemala City historian image’s Indians indigenous January jefe político José ladino Latin leaders Liberal limpieza de sangre Lord of Esquipulas Mariano Martínez Peláez Marure Mensage mestizo Mexico Miguel Muñoz miraculous Montúfar Morazán mulattos Muñoz narrative nineteenth century novena one’s parish priest Paz Solórzano pilgrimage pilgrims political popular Porras Castejón Protestant Quezaltenango Rafael Carrera Recordación florida region religious Rossell y Arellano Rosselly Salarrué Salvador sanctuary Señor Crucificado shrine of Esquipulas social Spain Spanish temala tion town twentieth century