The introduction relates the story of transnational Catholicism to the existing historiography focused on local religion. It argues that a transnational approach enlarges the boundaries of the geographical ‘map’ of religious experience in Latin America. Both perspectives — local and transnational — are complementary and need not deny the value of the other. Research on local religion has contributed to a more nuanced picture of the diversity of Catholicism within regional and national confines. At the parish level, local cults indeed operated as vital sources for dynamic expressions of lay spirituality and activism. This study suggests that Catholic activism was also influenced by forces outside local and national contexts. Among urban Hispanicized Catholic lay elites, models of European Catholicism often dominated, and Rome held a central place as the capital of an international ‘imagined community’.
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