In spite of the somewhat porous borders separating indigenous from Spanish institutions in colonial Spanish America, one realm remained relatively unassailable for natives: that of ecclesiastical and monastic careers. As a matter of policy, indigenous peoples were not ordained as priests or accepted into regular orders. This proscription, which Robert Ricard thought was a major misstep in the Christian evangelization enterprise, was based on arguments about the natives’ moral and intellectual inferiority. Nevertheless, a few men of native origin managed to join the clergy in New Spain, such as idolatry extirpator Pedro Ponce de León, doctrinal author Bartolomé de Alva, and Oaxaca bishop Nicolás del Puerto.

What about indigenous women? By focusing on elite native women who took vows as nuns, this book makes a highly valuable and original contribution to our knowledge about indigenous participation in colonial religious life. While this volume...

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