Winner, 2018 Paul J. Foik Award for Best Book on Catholic History in the American Southwest, presented by the Texas Catholic Historical Society The remarkable history of the Santuario de Chimayó, the church whose world-renowned healing powers have drawn visitors to its steps for centuries. Nestled in a valley at the feet of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, the Santuario de Chimayó has been called the most important Catholic pilgrimage site in America. To experience the Santuario’s miraculous healing dirt, pilgrims and visitors first walk into the cool, adobe church, proceeding up an aisle to the altar with its magnificent crucifix. They then turn left to enter a low-slung room filled with cast-off crutches, a statue of the Santo Niño de Atocha, and photos of thousands of people who have been prayed for in the exact spot they are standing. An adjacent room, stark by contrast, contains little but a hole in the floor, known as the pocito. From this well in the earth, the Santuario’s half a million annual visitors gather handfuls of holy dirt, celebrated for two hundred years for its purported healing properties. The book tells the fascinating stories of the Pueblo and Nuevomexicano Catholic origins of the site and the building of the church, the eventual transfer of the property to the Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and the modern pilgrimage of believers alongside thousands of tourists. Drawing on extensive archival research as well as fieldwork in Chimayó, Brett Hendrickson examines the claims that various constituencies have made on the Santuario, its stories, dirt, ritual life, commercial value, and aesthetic character. The importance of the story of the Santuario de Chimayó goes well beyond its sacred dirt, to illuminate the role of Southwestern Hispanics and Catholics in American religious history and identity. The healing powers and marvel of the Santuario shine through the pages of Hendrickson’s book, allowing readers of all kinds to feel like they have stepped inside an institution in American and religious history.
MexicanAmerican folk and religious healing, often referred to as curanderismo, has been a vital part of life in the Mexico-U.S.border region for centuries. A hybrid tradition made up primarily of indigenousand Iberian Catholic pharmacopeias, rituals, and notions of the self, curanderismo treats the sick person witha variety of healing modalities including herbal remedies, intercessory prayer,body massage, and energy manipulation. Curanderos,“healers,” embrace a holistic understanding of the patient, including body,soul, and community. Border Medicine examines the ongoingevolution of Mexican American religious healing from the end of the nineteenthcentury to the present. Illuminating the ways in which curanderismo has had an impact not only on the health and cultureof the borderlands but also far beyond, the book tracks its expansion from MexicanAmerican communities to Anglo and multiethnic contexts. While many healers treat Mexican and MexicanAmerican clientele, a significant number of curanderoshave worked with patients from other ethnic groups as well, especially thoseinvolved in North American metaphysical religions like spiritualism, mesmerism,New Thought, New Age, and energy-based alternative medicines. Hendricksonexplores this point of contact as an experience of transcultural exchange. Drawingon historical archives, colonial-era medical texts and accounts, earlyethnographies of the region, newspaper articles, memoirs, and contemporaryhealing guidebooks as well as interviews with contemporary healers, Border Medicine demonstrates the notableand ongoing influence of Mexican Americans on cultural and religious practicesin the United States, especially in the American West.