This well-researched study focuses on the religious life of professed nuns and laywomen in mid- and late colonial Spanish America and the Philippines. In early modern Catholic discourse, female virtue was based on adherence to silence, obedience, chastity, and enclosure. Magnus Lundberg does not question that contemplative women in the Spanish Indies upheld these ideals. Rather, he aims at examining to what degree these women “had or were given agency within the constrictions of the colonial-ecclesiastical gender system” and assumed a more active, even missionary role (p. 27). The author understands mission as including acts made by a person that are perceived to be in favor of others' salvation (p. 16). In this manner, Lundberg challenges the distinction between an apostolic and a contemplative religious life and rethinks the role of women in church history.

Lundberg utilizes a large corpus of printed...

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