In his history of the use of Madre Matiana, a likely fictional prophet who lived in the late colonial period, Edward Wright-Rios has given us a highly nuanced and transcendent interpretation of Mexican culture that is necessary reading for Mexicanists and to which this short review cannot do justice.

Wright-Rios first provides an interpretation of colonial Catholic femininity informed by medieval and baroque beliefs and practices. While women are dangerously open to penetration by the devil, the heretic, and the wrong man, their immersion in subjugation and sentiment makes them more likely to commune with God, Christ, and the Virgin than their male counterparts, the more so if the women are humble, poor, and aged. In 1847, Madre Matiana, a young but devout servant in the convent of San Jerónimo, made her posthumous appearance in a pamphlet circulating in the midst of...

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