Alone at the Altar
Single Women and Devotion in Guatemala, 1670-1870
Brianna Leavitt-Alcántara



In 1761, María Inés Gil fell ill and called a local notary to her bedside so that she could make out a will and put her temporal and spiritual affairs in order.1 As María Inés sat with the notary that day, following the legal and religious formulas of will-making, she revealed much about her life. She was a vecina (resident or citizen) of Santiago de Guatemala (today Antigua), the colonial capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala (a province of New Spain roughly corresponding to modern Central America). Like most will-makers, she did not specify her racial status, but it is quite likely she was of mixed African descent, as she lived in a neighborhood closely associated with the free mulatto and free black community.2 There are other indicators of racial mixture as well. By the eighteenth century, approximately 65 percent of Santiago’s population was mixed-race, and the percentage among non-elites was even higher. María Inés suggested her own non-elite status by declining to identify herself with the honorific title of doña. She was also an hija natural, that is an illegitimate child born to parents who faced no legal or ecclesiastical barriers to marriage. This intermediate status of illegitimacy placed María Inés above children born to adulterous or other scandalous unions, but her claim to this status was tenuous since she did not know, or chose not to identify her father. In any case, hijos naturales, and especially those not recognized by their fathers, carried the suspicion of racial mixture.3

María Inés opted to leave her marital status blank, but her will clearly indicates that she was a single woman. María Inés may have had one or more long-term consensual unions, because she had borne several illegitimate children during her lifetime, all of whom had died. She did not explain the circumstances of their births and made no mention of her children’s father or fathers. Indeed, in a subsequent will made a few years later, María Inés omitted all reference to her children.4 Like most will-makers at this time, she did not mention her occupation. But María Inés was apparently an enterprising woman. In the sidebar of her will, the notary somewhat unusually referenced her nickname, la grano de oro (the grain of gold). This phrase typically describes a profitable agricultural product, for example coffee in the nineteenth century, and thus suggests that María Inés made a living selling some valuable raw material. Business was apparently quite good. She included a house with a tile roof among her assets, and a subsequent will made out three years later indicated that she owned some furniture and clothing, and also had over 1,000 pesos in hard currency in her possession.

Spanish law required will-makers to divide up most of their estates (four fifths to be precise) equally among their children, followed by their parents. Because María Inés had no forced heirs, she was free to leave her soul as primary heir, directing all her assets toward her favored devotions and her own salvation. Her devotion to the Dominican Church, and particularly the sacred and much beloved image of Our Lady of the Rosary housed within, are most apparent. By the time she made out her first will, María Inés was already a pious benefactor of Our Lady of the Rosary, providing funds for a novena, a ritual round of masses, in honor of the sacred image. She donated her nativity scene to Our Lady’s altar, under which she wished to be buried dressed in a Dominican habit. In a more unusual act of devotion, María Inés noted her desire to entrust an indigenous boy she had raised to the care of a Dominican friar, hoping that the boy might apply himself to the service of the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary. She also wanted to create three religious endowments, one to annually fund expenses related to Our Lady of the Rosary’s feast day, one to fund the daily illumination of six candles in front of the image during Mass or while the lay female community of the Beaterio de Santa Rosa prayed the rosary, and another to fund annual masses in honor of the Christ Child. For each endowment, María Inés named the Dominican friars as chaplains and patrons responsible for celebrating the masses and managing the foundations in perpetuity. Finally, María Inés entrusted the execution of her will to the Dominican provincial head. Toward the end of her will, she highlighted her close relationship with the Dominican friars in unusually explicit terms. She noted that the friars should enjoy wide control over her estate on the condition that they take care of her in her illness “because I am orphaned and alone.”5

María Inés’s situation as a non-elite single woman, and even as a single mother of illegitimate children, was quite common in colonial Spanish American cities. Labor and migration patterns often produced urban female majorities, high numbers of unmarried women, and female-headed households.6 Indeed, Santiago de Guatemala was very much a “city of women” by the eighteenth century, with women heading many households and illegitimacy rates hovering around 45 percent among the non-elite population.7 Recent studies highlight the critical economic roles played by non-elite women in colonial Spanish American cities.8 But we know remarkably little about the religious lives of women like María Inés Gil. What we do know comes mostly from Inquisition and criminal cases, prescriptive literature, and early modern Catholic decrees, all of which highlight official hostility toward laboring women living outside patriarchal authority.9

Nor did intensive piety necessarily save poor single women from scrutiny. Studies point out that the early modern Church was also increasingly concerned about female religious autonomy.10 Actively religious laywomen had played important roles in medieval Spanish cities as healers, nurses, teachers, alms collectors, shrine keepers, and devotional leaders. But the sixteenth-century Council of Trent moved decisively to enclose active laywomen in cloistered convents as part of a broader project to aggressively enforce Catholic orthodoxy. For the Spanish American context, Nora Jaffary argues that ongoing concerns about native and African idolatry, uncontrollable racial mixture, and threats to the colonial hierarchy heightened anxieties about active lay female religiosity and unorthodox religious practices. Jaffary finds that Mexican Inquisition officials were especially worried about non-elite independent women, women like María Inés Gil, and prosecuted them as “false” mystics more than any other group.11

Wills left by women like María Inés Gil reveal another side to this story. Although official decrees required institutional enclosure of unmarried women and cloistered confines for active female religiosity, María Inés was able to navigate narrowing gender norms, participate in the spiritual economy, and cultivate alliances with powerful priests and religious orders. And she was not alone, according to my analysis of close to 550 wills between 1700 and 1870 and a variety of other sources including spiritual biographies, religious chronicles, school foundation records, and Inquisition files. Far from the margins, laboring women living outside marriage acted as lay evangelizers, teachers, benefactors, and devotional leaders over two centuries in Guatemala’s capital. Priests, friars, and archbishops frequently collaborated with these women and endorsed active religious paths for women outside convent walls. This book explores how and why non-elite single women forged alliances with the Church and how those alliances ultimately shaped local religion and the spiritual economy, late colonial reform efforts, and post-Independence politics in the colonial capital of Central America.

In some ways, this is a story about Church leaders in a modest provincial capital, away from close Inquisitorial oversight, adapting official doctrine according to local needs and circumstances. Guatemala’s capital was not alone in this. As Elizabeth Lehfeldt points out, even within Europe, the Council of Trent’s strict decrees regarding female enclosure were “unevenly” implemented across provincial towns and cities.12 But most studies that consider this dynamic focus on organized communities of pious laywomen, like the French Daughters of Charity, or on the enduring permeability of convent walls and nuns’ extensive engagement in worldly affairs.13 Far less attention has been paid to local Church support for independent religious laywomen, particularly when those women were poor and unmarried.14 Alone at the Altar explores how the local context of Guatemala’s capital influenced levels of official tolerance and support for lay female religiosity and laboring women outside marriage.

My approach builds on William Christian’s concept of “local religion.” Christian found that Catholicism for early modern Spanish peasants centered on community-based devotions connected to particular places, images, and local sacred histories as opposed to the sacramental and liturgical emphasis of the Universal Church. Based on these findings, Christian argued more broadly that Catholic belief and practice invariably reflected distinctly local interpretations of Universal Catholicism.15 For historians of colonial Spanish America, local religion provides an alternative to binary categorizations of elite versus popular religiosity and rethinks scholarly approaches to religion that separate religious experience and practice from, as William Taylor puts it, “the wider social, economic, and political network of which they are a part.”16 While Christian originally examined local religion in a rural peasant context, the present analysis shifts attention to the urban religious landscape of a provincial capital of Spanish America, which connected with but also diverged from more powerful colonial centers such as Mexico City and Lima. This study further sheds light on the role that gender and marital status played in the formation of local religion.17

While local contexts are clearly at work, this is not a simple story of local religion at odds with the Universal Church, or colonial Church officials at odds with Rome. The eighteenth century witnessed a renewal of Catholic missionary movements, which one scholar describes as “the most vigorous spiritual effort of the eighteenth-century church.”18 As Luke Clossey points out, while historians often treat these efforts as “a disjointed collection” of individual missions, early modern mission history was in fact a “macrohistorical phenomenon, that is, a single world-spanning enterprise.”19 In Guatemala’s capital, missionaries revived medieval feminine ideals and forms of devotion and supported a vibrant spiritual renewal among lay populations. Eighteenth-century Franciscan missionary chronicles and the Jesuit-authored spiritual biography of a local holy woman, Anna Guerra de Jesús, illuminate how the encounters of local and global Catholicism, of missionary movements and enthusiastic female religiosity, forged diverse models of female piety and sustained support for active female ministries. Recent analyses of early modern hagiographies, which explore the complex relationships developed between priests and local holy women and the celebration of laywomen from non-elite and mixed-race backgrounds, provide a broader regional and global context for clerical alliances with laywomen in eighteenth-century Santiago and suggest the need to modify interpretations of early modern Catholicism as primarily repressive and hostile toward single women and lay female religiosity.20


A rich body of scholarship explores nuns and convent life in Spain and Spanish America. Laywomen, especially non-elite women, left a thinner paper trail and have proved a more elusive subject. Women prosecuted for religious deviance represent an important exception to this rule, and several studies take advantage of the rich and meaty testimonies provided by Inquisition trials. Martha Few’s study of witchcraft in colonial Guatemala, for example, considers how mixed-race women used “informal religious practices” and spiritual power “to overtly challenge gender, racial, and colonial hierarchies and intervene in conflicts and problems in daily life.”21 But other recent studies point out that the scholarly emphasis on power struggles can sometimes obscure how those accused of religious “deviance” saw themselves and their actions.22 The scholarly and popular soft spot for rebels can also overshadow the prominent role that women played in the expansion of Spanish Catholicism in the New World and the ambitious formation of a global Catholic Church.23 As Kathleen Myers and Amanda Powell aptly note, women’s influence in the public life of colonial Spanish America came primarily through “extensive participation in the orthodox religious world of the Catholic Church and its hierarchies,” rather than rebellion.24

Through an extensive analysis of wills, as well as a variety of other source materials, Alone at the Altar addresses several unresolved questions pertaining to non-elite women’s lived religious experiences and how they shaped local religion in colonial Spanish America. How did non-elite women relate to the female mystical tradition and missionary movements? What role did laboring women play in religious brotherhoods and new nineteenth-century pious associations? Did spiritual capital flow in just one direction, from the Church to poor women in the form of charity, or did laboring women participate actively in the spiritual economy, and if so, what impact did they have? And how did poor single women respond to religious change and the weakening of the Church in the late colonial period and the post-Independence era?

This book also explores how non-elite women living outside patriarchal control navigated questions of sex and honor. Scholars frequently point out that Spanish America was an honor-based culture in which female honor rested primarily on sexual virtue. Although Ann Twinam masterfully examined the ways in which elite women took advantage of loopholes in order to circumvent strict feminine ideals of sexual virtue and honor, the experiences of non-elite women remain unclear.25 Elite women could be single mothers in private and virgins in public because elite society upheld a sharp distinction between carefully crafted public personas and private realities and colluded to keep elite women’s sexual indiscretions secret. But poor women could not access such loopholes. For poor women, private and public were inseparable and indistinguishable. There would be no carefully “defined and manipulated disparities between their private and public worlds.”26

Given remarkably high levels of illegitimacy, especially among non-elite communities in Spanish and Spanish American cities, and the apparent complacency of local officials, some scholars question whether elite ideals of female chastity mattered at all in the daily lives of most people.27 Allyson Poska goes so far as to argue that “culturally or religiously required chastity was not central to gender expectations and sexual interaction in early modern Spain.”28 Evidence certainly suggests a surprising degree of social and legal tolerance in Guatemala and broader Spanish America toward female sexual activity outside marriage. It appears that prior sexual activity did not automatically restrict non-elite women’s marital prospects.29 In Santiago de Guatemala, official concern about sexual morality was also muted, even among local priests and the ecclesiastical court, perhaps because the city lacked the infrastructure required to systematically prosecute and incarcerate women who engaged in informal unions.

But tolerance did not necessarily mean acceptance. Even though non-elites were clearly more tolerant toward sex outside the bounds of marriage, recent studies also indicate that non-elites cared, and often cared deeply, about their honor as well as their salvation according to orthodox Catholic belief and practice.30 While basic survival was surely a prime concern for non-elites, economic well-being was always linked to reputation in colonial Spanish America. Within the complex internal hierarchies of non-elite communities, legitimacy, sexual morality, and behavior mattered and shaped social status as well as vital access to credit and mutual aid.31 Furthermore, in the deeply litigious society of colonial Spanish America, marriage and honor allowed non-elites to better protect their rights in court. Slave women, for example, defended their rights in court by emphasizing their status as wives and members of the Catholic community. As Richard Boyer puts it, “Christian marriage attached every station of people to rights meant to be universal.”32 Poor single women, whether they engaged in informal unions or not, were clearly at a disadvantage in this cultural context.

Alone at the Altar considers how some non-elite single women navigated these tensions by invoking ideals of female conduct other than chastity and enclosure. In its discussion of “alternative” feminine ideals, this study builds on anthropological studies that consider how female honor in Mediterranean societies reflects multiple factors, including, but not limited to, sexual behavior.33 There are obvious interpretive risks to projecting modern ethnographic findings back in time; however, this argument resonates with the evidence provided by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century wills from Guatemala’s capital. Single non-elite women like María Inés Gil frequently highlighted their piety and active devotional networks, as well as their hard work and resourcefulness.34 Much as scholars recognize that race in colonial Latin America was a flexible category and individuals might claim multiple racial identities simultaneously, this study considers how gender ideals were malleable and multifaceted and poor single women could sometimes claim more than one moral status. To be clear, I do not assume that women’s religious practices or devotional networks were simply mundane survival strategies. Rather, this analysis of the ways in which gender, marital, and social status intersected with religious practice builds on Robert Orsi’s model of religion as a “network of relationships” that spans this world and the next and connects humans and sacred figures, while always remaining deeply enmeshed in the “arrangements of the social world in which they exist.”35


By crossing the boundary between early modern and modern, colonial and postcolonial, this study also explores issues of religious and gendered change and continuity. Secularization did not proceed in a linear fashion in Guatemala’s capital, nor were there clear battle lines between religious tradition and modernization. In the late colonial period, laywomen and their clerical allies pioneered educational initiatives, clearly drawing on medieval and early modern forms of piety, even as they expanded the scope and influence of lay female initiatives, challenged entrenched racial ideologies, and creatively engaged with modernizing royal reforms, Enlightenment thinking, and Catholic reform movements.

Devotional networks between non-elite laywomen and priests took on new religious and political significance, both locally and globally, during the revolutionary era and for decades after. Nineteenth-century liberals everywhere portrayed female allies of the Church as backward fanatics or as coerced pawns of a reactionary clergy. Only recently have scholars begun to question this overly simplistic portrait of the relationship between women, religion, and politics in nineteenth-century Europe and Latin America.36 Building on this recent scholarship, Alone at the Altar explores how laboring laywomen, priests, and nuns creatively responded to rapid change and the onslaught of crises facing the Church at home and abroad. My case study of ecstatic nun Sor María Teresa Aycinena and her devotees, many of whom were priests and laywomen, illustrates how the Church’s weakened institutional power created an opening for assertive female claims to spiritual authority and a renewal of gendered devotional forms such as affective spirituality, imitation of Christ, and female mysticism. Although this famous, or infamous, nun did not become a unifying symbol for Guatemala, evidence suggests that her devotees forged the early foundations of a new kind of Catholic nationalism and Guatemalan identity.

Scholars generally agree that non-elite women suffered significant setbacks in post-Independence Latin America as new states strengthened patriarchal power and privileges. While elite and middle-class women gained some status through the ideal of Republican Motherhood, poor women faced increased stigmatization and repression amid growing concerns about uncontrolled female sexuality.37 This study adds a religious and institutional dimension by considering how the weakening of the Church, especially the decline of religious brotherhoods and pastoral instability, undermined traditional forms of spiritual and social support for laboring women. The Church’s Marian female ideal and renewed emphasis on female sexual purity also likely heightened non-elite women’s vulnerability to stigmatization and repression.

But at the same time, evidence from wills also indicates that many women continued to find familiar ways to navigate new challenges, invoking diverse ideals of female conduct, cultivating devotional networks, and positioning themselves as pious benefactors helping to rebuild the Church. Indeed, the weakness of the institutional Church augmented the “laicization of the faith,” a process by which laypeople took greater initiative and control over Church life and charitable activities.38 Furthermore, the pitched battles between liberals and conservatives provided laboring women in Guatemala City with new ways of establishing moral status and authority through their defense of the faith. Their actions shaped the development of popular conservatism in Guatemala and helped lay the foundation for Rafael Carrera’s rise to power and the long conservative era (1838–1871). As the Guatemalan Church rebuilt in the 1850s and 1860s, in the context of a global Catholic revival movement, laboring women in Guatemala City renewed alliances with returning Jesuit missionaries and took advantage of new devotional opportunities. These opportunities illuminate profound shifts within the nineteenth-century Catholic Church, as officials relied heavily on female support to navigate the rapid changes and challenges brought by the modern era and largely rejected early modern restrictions on active lay female religiosity.


1. Will of María Inés Gil, 1761, Sig. A1, Leg. 1001, Exp. 9494, Escribano José Matías Guzmán, Fols. 17f–20f, Archivo General de Centroamérica (henceforth referred to as AGCA).

2. Christopher Lutz, Santiago de Guatemala, 1541–1773: City, Caste, and the Colonial Experience (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), p. 62.

3. See Ann Twinam, Public Lives, Private Secrets: Gender, Honor, Sexuality, and Illegitimacy in Colonial Spanish America (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999); and Richard Boyer, Lives of the Bigamists: Marriage, Family, and Community in Colonial Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995).

4. Will of María Inés Gil, 1764, Sig. A1, Leg. 495, Exp. 8898, Escribano José de Azurdia, Fols. 3f–5v, AGCA.

5. Will of María Inés Gil, 1761, Sig. A1, Leg. 1001, Exp. 9494, Escribano José Matías Guzmán, Fol. 19f, AGCA. “Respecto a mi orfandad y soledad.”

6. Jay Kinsbruner, The Colonial Spanish-American City: Urban Life in the Age of Atlantic Capitalism (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005), p. 113.

7. Catherine Komisaruk, Labor and Love in Guatemala: The Eve of Independence (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013), pp. 61, 117; Lutz, Santiago de Guatemala, p. 234.

8. See for example, Komisaruk, Labor and Love in Guatemala; Karen Graubart, With Our Labor and Sweat: Indigenous Women and the Formation of Colonial Society in Peru, 1550–1700 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007); Jane Mangan, Trading Roles: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Urban Economy in Colonial Potosí (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005); and Kimberly Gauderman, Women’s Lives in Colonial Quito: Gender, Law, and Economy in Spanish America (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003).

9. See, for example, Lisa Vollendorf, The Lives of Women: A New History of Inquisitorial Spain (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2005); Nora E. Jaffary, False Mystics: Deviant Orthodoxy in Colonial Mexico (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004); Nancy E. van Deusen, Between the Sacred and the Worldly: The Institutional and Cultural Practice of Recogimiento in Colonial Lima (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001); Steve Stern, The Secret History of Gender: Women, Men, and Power in Late Colonial Mexico (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995); Mary Elizabeth Perry, Gender and Disorder in Early Modern Spain (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990); and Anne J. Cruz and Mary Elizabeth Perry, eds., Culture and Control in Counter-Reformation Spain (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992).

10. See, for example, Jacqueline Holler, Escogidas Plantas: Nuns and Beatas in Mexico City, 1531–1601 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005); Jaffary, False Mystics; Kathleen A. Myers, Neither Saints nor Sinners: Writing the Lives of Women in Spanish America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); María Emma Mannarelli, Hechiceras, beatas, y expósitas: Mujeres y poder inquisitorial en Lima (Lima: Ediciones del Congreso del Perú, 1998); Gillian T. W. Ahlgren, “Negotiating Sanctity: Holy Women in Sixteenth-Century Spain,” Church History 64, no. 3 (1995); and Perry, Gender and Disorder in Early Modern Spain.

11. Jaffary, False Mystics, pp. 37, 48, 53.

12. Elizabeth Lehfeldt, “Discipline, Vocation, and Patronage: Spanish Religious Women in a Tridentine Microclimate,” Sixteenth Century Journal 30, no. 4 (Winter 1999), p. 1010.

13. See ibid.; Elizabeth Rapley, The Dévotes: Women and Church in Seventeenth-Century France (Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990); Craig Harline, “Actives and Contemplatives: The Female Religious of the Low Countries Before and After Trent,” Catholic Historical Review 81, no. 4 (1995); and Susan Dinan, “Female Religious Communities Beyond the Convent,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, ed. Jane Couchman, Allyson Poska, and Katherine McIver (Farnham, UK: Routledge, 2013).

14. Some scholars identify support among local officials for lay female religiosity, but these studies often explore clerical networks with elite laywomen and the eventual pressures to cloister. See Barbara Diefendorf, From Penitence to Charity: Pious Women and the Catholic Reformation in Paris (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); and Holler, Escogidas Plantas.

15. William Christian, Local Religion in Sixteenth-Century Spain (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981).

16. William Taylor, “Between Nativitas and Mexico City: An Eighteenth-Century Pastor’s Local Religion,” in Local Religion in Colonial Mexico, ed. Martin Austin Nesvig (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006), pp. 91–92.

17. This discussion of my approach to William Christian’s model of local religion, and other small portions of this introduction, originally appeared in Brianna Leavitt-Alcántara, “Intimate Indulgences: Local Religion and Salvation in Eighteenth-Century Santiago de Guatemala,” Colonial Latin American Review 23, no. 2 (2014). Small portions of this chapter also appeared in Brianna Leavitt-Alcántara, “Holy Women and Hagiography in Colonial Latin America,” History Compass 12, no. 9 (2014), and Brianna Leavitt-Alcántara, “Quiet Voices and Laconic Sources: A Synoptic Approach to Wills,” in Imagining Histories of Colonial Latin America: Essays on Synoptic Methods and Practices, ed. Karen Melvin and Sylvia Sellers-García (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, forthcoming).

18. William J. Callahan, “The Spanish Church,” in Church and Society in Catholic Europe in the Eighteenth Century, ed. William J. Callahan and David Higgs (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 43.

19. Luke Clossey, Salvation and Globalization in the Early Jesuit Mission (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 3.

20. On early modern hagiographies of non-elite or non-European holy women, see Jodi Bilinkoff, Related Lives: Confessors and their Female Penitents, 1450–1750 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005); Ellen Gunnarsdóttir, Mexican Karismata: The Baroque Vocation of Francisca de los Ángeles, 1674–1744 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004); Antonio Rubial García, Profetisas y solitarios: Espacios y mensajes de una religión dirigida por ermitaños y beatas laicos en las ciudades de Nueva España (México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2006); Myers, Neither Saints nor Sinners; Allan Greer, Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); and Diefendorf, From Penitence to Charity.

21. Martha Few, Women Who Live Evil Lives: Gender, Religion, and the Politics of Power in Colonial Guatemala (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002), p. 5. See also Laura Lewis, Hall of Mirrors: Power, Witchcraft, and Caste in Colonial Mexico (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003).

22. See Jaffary, False Mystics.

23. See Myers, Neither Saints nor Sinners, p. 3; J. Michelle Molina and Ulrike Strasser, “Missionary Men and the Global Currency of Female Sanctity,” in Women, Religion, and the Atlantic World (1600–1800), ed. Daniella Kostroun and Lisa Vollendorf (Toronto: University of Toronto Press in association with the UCLA Center for Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Studies and the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 2009); and Barbara Diefendorf, “Rethinking the Catholic Reformation: The Role of Women,” in Women, Religion, and the Atlantic World (1600–1800).

24. Kathleen A. Myers and Amanda Powell, eds., A Wild Country out in the Garden: The Spiritual Journals of a Colonial Mexican Nun (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), p. xxi.

25. See Twinam, Public Lives, Private Secrets.

26. Ibid., p. 25.

27. See, for example, Allyson Poska, “Elusive Virtue: Rethinking the Role of Female Chastity in Early Modern Spain,” Journal of Early Modern History 8, no. 1–2 (2004): p. 135; Nicole von Germeten, Violent Delights, Violent Ends: Sex, Race, and Honor in Colonial Cartagena de Indias (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2013); María Emma Mannarelli, Private Passions and Public Sins: Men and Women in Seventeenth-Century Lima, trans. Sidney Evans and Meredith Dodge (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007); and Robert McCaa, “La viuda viva del México Borbónico: Sus voces, variedades, y vejaciones,” in Familias novohispanas: siglos XVI al XIX, ed. Seminario de Historia de la Familia and Pilar Gonzalbo Aizpuru (México, D.F.: Colegio de México, 1991).

28. Poska, “Elusive Virtue,” p. 144.

29. Komisaruk, Labor and Love in Guatemala, p. 224.

30. Richard Boyer, “Honor Among Plebeians: Mala Sangre and Social Reputation,” in The Faces of Honor: Sex, Shame, and Violence in Colonial Latin America, ed. Lyman Johnson and Sonya Lipsett-Rivera (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998), p. 156.

31. Sonya Lipsett-Rivera, “Scandal at the Church: José de Alfaro Accuses Doña Theresa Bravo and Others of Insulting and Beating his Castiza Wife, Josefa Cadena (Mexico, 1782),” in Colonial Lives: Documents on Latin American History, 1550–1850, ed. Richard Boyer and Geoffrey Spurling (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 216.

32. Boyer, “Honor Among Plebeians,” pp. 161–62.

33. Heidi Kelley, “Unwed Mothers and Household Reputation in a Spanish Galician Community,” American Ethnologist 18, no. 3 (1991): p. 565.

34. Karen Graubart identifies a similar pattern in women’s wills in colonial Peru. Graubart, With Our Labor and Sweat, pp. 62, 96.

35. Robert Orsi, Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), pp. ix, 2, 4.

36. See, for example, Edward Wright-Rios, Revolutions in Mexican Catholicism: Reform and Revelation in Oaxaca, 1887–1934 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009); and Benjamin Smith, The Roots of Conservatism in Mexico: Catholicism, Society, and Politics in the Mixteca Baja, 1750–1962 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2012). For the French context, see Susan Desan, Reclaiming the Sacred: Lay Religion and Popular Politics in Revolutionary France (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990); and Caroline Ford, Divided Houses: Religion and Gender in Modern France (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005).

37. See for example, Elizabeth Dore, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Gender and the State in the Long Nineteenth Century,” in Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America, ed. Elizabeth Dore and Maxine Molyneux (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000); Rebecca Earle, “Rape and the Anxious Republic: Revolutionary Colombia, 1810–1830,” in Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America; Sarah Chambers, From Subjects to Citizens: Honor, Gender, and Politics in Arequipa, Peru, 1780–1854 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999); Christine Hünefeldt, Liberalism in the Bedroom: Quarreling Spouses in Nineteenth-Century Lima (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000); and Arlene Díaz, Female Citizens, Patriarchs, and the Law in Venezuela, 1786–1904 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004).

38. William Taylor, Shrines and Miraculous Images: Religious Life in Mexico Before the Reforma (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2010), p. 166.