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Tongues of FireLanguage and Evangelization in Colonial Mexico$
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Nancy Farriss

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190884109

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190884109.001.0001

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Catechists and Catechism

Catechists and Catechism

Chapter:
(p.141) Chapter 6 Catechists and Catechism
Source:
Tongues of Fire
Author(s):

Nancy Farriss

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190884109.003.0007

The religious orders recruited the aid of the Indian ruling classes in introducing Christianity, and this alliance served to support both the new religion and the old elites. Their monopoly of alphabetic literacy helped to guarantee their status within indigenous society and provided a vital tool for mediating with the Spanish overlords. Although generally denied access to the highest ranks within the church, Indian elites received a privileged education that placed them in control of parish administration and parish schools, where the ABCs of reading and the basic catechism lessons were linked in the same printed primers. The religious orders debated how much religious instruction was required for a valid baptism. Christian identity was measured by the ability to recite the basic prayers, but rote learning unenhanced by explanation produced a weak grasp of Christian doctrine.

Keywords:   catechism, Indian elites, alphabetic literacy, baptism, priesthood, primary education, Oaxaca, Dominicans, colonial Mexico

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