St. Joseph is mentioned only eight times in the New Testament Gospels. Prior to the late medieval period, Church doctrine rarely noticed him except in passing. But in 1555 this humble carpenter, earthly spouse of the Virgin Mary and foster father of Jesus, was made patron of the Conquest and conversion in Mexico. In 1672, King Charles II of Spain named St. Joseph patron of his kingdom, toppling St. James--traditional protector of the Iberian peninsula for over 800 years--from his honored position. Focusing on the changing manifestations of Holy Family and St. Joseph imagery in Spain and colonial Mexico from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, this book examines the genesis of a new saint's cult after centuries of obscurity. In so doing, it elucidates the role of the visual arts in creating gender discourses and deploying them in conquest, conversion, and colonization.
Charlene Villaseñor Black examines numerous images and hundreds of primary sources in Spanish, Latin, Náhuatl, and Otomí. She finds that St. Joseph was not only the most frequently represented saint in Spanish Golden Age and Mexican colonial art, but also the most important. In Spain, St. Joseph was celebrated as a national icon and emblem of masculine authority in a society plagued by crisis and social disorder. In the Americas, the parental figure of the saint--model father, caring spouse, hardworking provider--became the perfect paradigm of Spanish colonial power.
Creating the Cult of St. Joseph exposes the complex interactions among artists, the Catholic Church and Inquisition, the Spanish monarchy, and colonial authorities. One of the only sustained studies of masculinity in early modern Spain, it also constitutes a rare comparative study of Spain and the Americas.
"In detail and with an abundance of sources, both graphic and literary, this book follows the major stages of growth in Josephine piety. . . . This book shows the need to study religious art not only on its own aesthetic terms but also as a key participant in and articulator of great (often too great) social, cultural, and religious themes in a given time and place."--Reverend Alvaro Silva, Religion and the Arts
"Among this book's strengths are its engaging prose, impressive corpus of visual images, and emphasis on the connection between St. Joseph's cult and societal and religious ideals in the early modern Hispanic world. . . . This book offers fresh insight into the dissemination and popularity of the cult of St. Joseph in early modern Spain and colonial Mexico."--Joseph F. Chorpenning, Sixteenth Century Journal
"Creating the Cult of Saint Joseph is a refreshing and stimulating contribution to the fields of Spanish and Latin American art history and cultural studies. Villaseñor's combination of colonial and gender theories with art-historical analysis is sure to yield interesting results in future studies of religious art in the Spanish Empire. Her bibliography is an impressive collection of archival material, primary religious texts, and wide-ranging secondary sources; it promises to become an indispensable research tool for students of the period."--Marta Bustillo, CAA Reviews
Table of Contents:
CHAPTER ONE: Creating the Cult of St. Joseph 21
CHAPTER TWO: Love and Marriage 41
CHAPTER THREE: Happy Families 59
CHAPTER FOUR: Mothering Fathers 89
CHAPTER FIVE: Men at Work 117
CHAPTER SIX: The Good Death 135
CHAPTER SEVEN: Epilogue 157
Photography Credits 260