Holy Organ or Unholy Idol?

The Sacred Heart in the Art, Religion, and Politics of New Spain


Holy Organ or Unholy Idol? focuses on the significance of the cult of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and its accompanying imagery in eighteenth-century New Spain. Lauren G. Kilroy-Ewbank considers paintings, prints, devotional texts, and archival sources within the Mexican context alongside issues and debates occurring in Europe to situate the New Spanish cult within local and global developments. She examines the iconography of these religious images and frames them within broader socio-political and religious discourses related to the Eucharist, the sun, the Jesuits, scientific and anatomical ideas, and mysticism. Images of the Heart helped to champion the cult’s validity as it was attacked by religious reformers.

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Lauren G. Kilroy-Ewbank, Ph.D. (2009, University of California, Los Angeles), is Associate Professor of Art History at Pepperdine University. She has published articles on Spanish colonial visual culture and co-edited Visualizing Sensuous Suffering and Affective Pain in Europe and the Spanish Americas (Brill, 2018).
List of Figures and Tables
List of Abbreviations


1 Shaping the Devotion

2 Matters of the Heart

3 Reading, Meditating, Fixating

4 The Eucharistic Heart

5 Christ’s Heart as the Sacramented Sun

6 Divine Champions

7 Politicizing the Heart after 1767

Conclusion: Forming a New History of the Sacred Heart

All interested in the history and visual culture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, colonial Mexico, the Jesuits, Catholicism, the Enlightenment, religious art, Jesuits, the eighteenth century, colonial rule, viceroyalty, anatomy, devotion, saints, Spanish Americas, and Mexico.
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