In Volunteering for a Cause, Silvia Arrom unveils the history of the Mexican Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and reassesses the religious history of Mexico from 1844 to 1913. By tracing the foundation and development of this charitable society Arrom presents a history of Catholics that has been overlooked by traditional historiography, which has focused on the efforts of the liberal governments to undermine the power of the Catholic Church and deprive it of its assets.

This book explains how Catholics as a community survived, adjusted to the changing times, and prospered. The author argues that Mexican Catholicism is complex and should be analyzed with this in mind, as well as the fact “that Catholicism is not necessarily an obstacle to progress” (p. 8). Challenging the thesis, held by most studies, that religion and charity were feminized, Silvia Arrom shows...

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