This volume addresses the life history of an “unsuccessful” Mexican religious community, La Purísima Concepción in San Miguel el Grande, from its eighteenth-century origins to its suppression by the liberals in 1863. The work was made possible by the author’s serendipitous discovery of a wealth of documentation regarding this convent that had been misfiled in the archives of the Archdiocese of Michoacán. These materials detailed the saga of two “rebellions” occurring during the convent’s early decades. The letters, interrogatories, interviews, and official reports of these conflicts, along with more standard sources like documents of profession and account books, form the documentary base for the book.

San Miguel el Grande’s first convent, La Purísima Concepción, was established in 1752 with an endowment from the teenaged heiress María Josepha Lina, who also became its first novice. In 1756, four nuns from the Conceptionist Convent of Regina Coeli in Mexico City arrived to...

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