For those of us who study religion in Mexico, a new book by William Taylor represents an opportunity and an obligation. The author of several field-shaping books on colonial Mexico, Taylor turned his attention to religious culture and the Catholic Church in the 1990s, and he has continued to publish on the topic after retirement. Scholars have long stressed the ubiquity of Catholicism in Mexican life, but few have done as much as Taylor to flesh out the nuanced institutional, sociopolitical, and cultural dynamics beneath these assertions. For this reader, the twin towers of his oeuvre reside in his exceptional volume on priests in colonial society, Magistrates of the Sacred (1996), and the book presently under review.

The author divides the book into two parts. The first, titled “Bearings,” offers the reader a four-chapter, carefully documented, chronology of shrine establishment and development....

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