Colonial inhabitants of Mexico City were accustomed to coping with natural disasters, including disease epidemics, droughts, floods, and earthquakes, which menaced rich and poor alike and stirred fervent devotion to miraculous images and their shrines. This article revisits the late colonial history of the shrine of Our Lady of the Angels, an image preserved miraculously on an adobe wall in the Indian quarter of Santiago Tlatelolco. The assumption has been that archiepiscopal authorities aiming to deflect public worship toward a more austere, interior spirituality suppressed activities there after 1745 because they saw the devotion as excessively Indian and Baroque. The shrine has served as a barometer of eighteenth-century Bourbon reforms even though its story has not been fully told. This article explores the politics of patronage in the years after the shrine’s closure and in the decades prior to the arrival on the scene of a new Spanish patron in 1776, revealing that Indian caretakers kept the faith well beyond the official intervention, with some help from well-placed Spanish devotees and officials. The efforts of the new patron, a Spanish tailor from the city center, to renovate the building and image and secure the necessary permissions and privileges helped transform the site into one of the most famous in the capital. Attention to earlier patterns of patronage and to the social response to a series of tremors that coincided with his promotional efforts helps to explain why a devotion so carefully managed for enlightened audiences was nevertheless cut from old cloth.

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