Death and Dying in New Mexico by Martina Will de Chaparro

By Martina Will de Chaparro

During this exploration of the way humans lived and died in eighteenth- and 19th- century New Mexico, Martina Will de Chaparro weaves jointly the tales of people and groups during this cultural crossroads of the yankee Southwest. The wills and burial registers on the center of this learn supply insights into the range of how within which demise used to be understood by means of New Mexicans residing in a interval of profound social and political transitions.This quantity addresses the version of the great demise that settlers and friars introduced with them to New Mexico, demanding situations to the model's program, and the eventual erosion of the appropriate. The textual content additionally considers the consequences of public well-being laws that sought to guard the general public welfare, in addition to responses to those debatable and unpopular reforms. Will discusses either cultural continuity and nearby model, reading Spanish-American deathways in New Mexico in the course of the colonial (approximately 1700-1821), Mexican (1821-1848), and early Territorial (1848-1880) classes.

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The Jesuit Congregation of the Good Death in Mexico published a volume elaborating the basic rules of making a will in 1714. 7 The seventeenth-century bishop of Puebla, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, emphasized the will’s importance in a book describing Mother Francisca del Santísimo Sacramento’s visions. 8 Though we tend to think of the spiritual and secular worlds as distinct today, the two were in many ways one for contemporaries. The most utilitarian of all the manuals was the Práctica de testamentos en la que se resuelven los casos más frecuentes que se ofrecen en la disposición de las últimas voluntades.

Migrants to New Mexico had seen these images and understood their message, even if comparatively few gilded statues and oil paintings graced the region’s churches. Themes of saintly martyrdom and the model death appeared in New Mexican art, likely inspired by engravings from books, which friars and artisans routinely copied as they recreated the world of their youth with locally available materials. Some pieces have been lost in all but the documents, fleetingly described in wills or other texts.

Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Mexican painters like Juan Correa and Miguel Cabrera emulated and built upon the rich Spanish tradition. They relied on the familiar religious and allegorical subjects, painting the death of the Virgin Mary with her face serene, the very embodiment of the good death. Mary also appeared as the Virgin of Sorrows, pierced by swords, and as the tear-stained Virgin of Solitude grieving her son’s death. Like the life-sized, bloodied, and coffined Santo Entierro—Christ in the tomb—that occupied a prominent place in churches, these images offered believers a potent point of reference to their own lives.

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