Music, Liturgy, and Devotional Piety in New Spain: Baroque Religious Culture and the Re-evaluation of Religious Reform during the 18th Century

Latin American Music Review 01/2010; 31(1):79-100. DOI: 10.1353/lat.2010.0010


Studies of religious culture in New Spain have considered the excess and financial ostentation of ritual and ceremony as initial catalysts of the Bourbon social and economic reforms of the 18th century. In this regard, scholars observe that the overwhelming proliferation of lay endowments was indicative of a fascination with excess and ostentation in ritual, which the crown aimed to curb. However, such studies stress that reform policies did not halt the establishment of lay endowments, a fact attributed to an alleged secular reaction against royal policies. This speculation has yet to reconcile the fact that, while endowments remained consistent throughout the 18th century, this was largely due to the benefit that they provided to the church during harsh financial times. Given the difficulties faced by the cathedral of Mexico during this period, this paper scrutinizes upheld notions of ritual ostentation, ultimately problematizing the relationship between the church and the crown in regard to reform policy, and emphasizing the role of lay devotion as pivotal to this institutional tension.