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Performing Piety

Performing Piety: Making Space Sacred with the Virgin of Guadalupe

Elaine A. Peña
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 234
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  • Book Info
    Performing Piety
    Book Description:

    The Virgin of Guadalupe, though quintessentially Mexican, inspires devotion throughout the Americas and around the world. This study sheds new light on the long-standing transnational dimensions of Guadalupan worship by examining the production of sacred space in three disparate but interconnected locations-at the sacred space known as Tepeyac in Mexico City, at its replica in Des Plaines, Illinois, and at a sidewalk shrine constructed by Mexican nationals in Chicago. Weaving together rich on-the-ground observations with insights drawn from performance studies, Elaine A. Peña demonstrates how devotees' rituals-pilgrimage, prayers, and festivals-develop, sustain, and legitimize these sacred spaces. Interdisciplinary in scope,Performing Pietypaints a nuanced picture of the lived experience of Guadalupan devotion in which different forms of knowing, socio-economic and political coping tactics, conceptions of history, and faith-based traditions circulate within and between sacred spaces.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94880-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. Introduction: Locating Transnational Devotion
    (pp. 1-13)

    I first met la Virgen de Guadalupe in Laredo, Texas. As I was born and raised less than a mile from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, it was inconceivable for me not to recognize her image—petite hands, palms together, solemn brown face gazing downward, her thick and forgiving eyelashes—impossible not to appreciate the way her celestial blue robe and gold aura made her beautiful and magical. Although quintessentially Mexican, she belonged to all Americans just the same. Later I would learn that she inspires communities beyond the Americas—from the inner sanctum of Nôtre Dame in Paris, France, to the...


    • CHAPTER 1 Virgen de los Migrantes: Transposing Sacred Space in a Chicago Suburb
      (pp. 17-51)

      One crisp fall day in a northwest suburb of Chicago, Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Honduran Guadalupanas/os gathered in the gymnasium-cum-sanctuary at the Second Tepeyac of North America—a sanctioned replica of the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City. The Second Tepeyac is not visible from the street. Not far from the Des Plaines River, it is surrounded by acres of landscaped trees and foliage; occasional clusters of buildings that constitute Maryville Academy divert attention from the open-air shrine. Keeper of a thousand souls, the All Saints Cemetery, located across the street from Maryville, lends silence and tranquillity to the edges...


    • CHAPTER 2 “¡Qué risa me da!” (Oh, how it makes me laugh!)
      (pp. 55-86)

      The uphill march from Tepejí del Río to Tepotzotlán was almost unbearable. Listening to the rhythm of marching feet and the hypnotic murmur of praying women, I walked with my head down and my hands behind my back. I would often fall into a state of meditation where I felt light and aware. Other times I would respond reflexively to the call and response of the rosary: “Santa María Madre de Dios, ruegue Señora por nosotros los pecadores, ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte, Amén” (Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and in the...

    • CHAPTER 3 Feeling History: Calambres, Ampoyas y Sed (Muscle Spasms, Blisters, and Thirst)
      (pp. 87-112)

      With moist skin, rubbery knees and lungs filled withaire contaminado(polluted air), and nearing delirium from sleep deprivation, las Guadalupanas from Zitácuaro arrived at Lerma de Villada’s central plaza after walking nearly one hundred kilometers over the course of three days.¹ Literally crawling on our knees across a cobbled walkway, the cohort of 120 women reached the front doors of the church. Waiting solemnly, a priest, flanked by two altar boys, blessed us and then proclaimed, “You are all sinners.” “This pilgrimage,” he continued, “is not sufficient, nor is it significant if you do not receive the sacraments. ....


    • CHAPTER 4 Devotion in the City: Building Sacred Space on Chicago’s Far North Side
      (pp. 115-144)

      On July 3, 2001, a woman originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, who may or may not be accounted for by census data, stood on a street in Rogers Park—a multiethnic urban area on Chicago’s Far North Side. This is the only part of the narrative that remains consistent across gender, sexuality, race, class, or citizenship status. Some neighborhood Guadalupanos believe that she was waiting on the corner of Rogers and Honere behind Pace Bus Stop #290 with her young daughter, Guadalupe, when she heard her name called. Others report she felt a tap on the shoulder, which alerted her to...

  9. Conclusion: Making Space Sacred
    (pp. 145-152)

    Performances of piety in Des Plaines, Mexico City, Santiago de Querétaro, Zitácuaro, and Rogers Park are not simple stories of sacred space production. Guadalupan coping strategies and devotional acts constantly shift and transform, thereby challenging any overarching analysis of how ethnoreligious communities make their beliefs tangible. There is not one set path toward the sacred. Guadalupanos across North America, out of convenience or necessity, often advance their spiritual objectives by co-opting institutional proclamations and/or sidestepping, going around, under, or over socioeconomic and political deterrents. Acknowledging their daily “ways of operating,” or how they pursue “innumerable and infinitesimal transformations of and...

  10. APPENDIX: Pilgrimage Repertoire
    (pp. 153-158)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 159-190)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 191-212)
  13. Index
    (pp. 213-219)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 220-220)