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Paper Topic:

Examine the importance of the religious beliefs in colonial society. Focus on the Catholic faith of the priests and officials as well as the popular religiosity of the Guatemalan society. Were they in constant opposition or did they learn to coexist?

8 8 CATHOLIC FAITH AND POPULAR RELIGIOSITY OF GUATEMALAN SOCIETY DURING THE COLONIAL ERA

Introduction Situated in Central America , Guatemala 's population of approximately 11 million live on a territory of 108 889 sq .km . The population is predominantly indigenous , and besides Spanish , Xinca and Garifuna , 20 Maya languages are spoken , often with different local dialects . In the last few decades , Maya culture (s ) and the various expressions of Maya traditions have gained political weight and have become more prominent at national and international levels since a great variety

of indigenous initiatives and movements have attracted public attention

History The first human settlers in Guatemala are presumed to have arrived migrated from the north at least 12 ,000 years ago .For the major part of their existence , the civilisation continued to flourish independently and had no contact with the outside world other than in Mesoamerica .The Maya civilisation dominated the history of Gautemala for nearly 2000 years , before the Spanish colonisers arrived in the early 16th century . However , it must be mentioned that the ancient Classic Maya cities of Peten region of Guatemala 's northern lowlands were abandoned by the year 1000 AD for some unknown reasons .The cities of the the states of the central highlands continued to flourish until the arrival of the Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado , who conquered most of the native states in a very brief period .Guatemala remained a Spanish colony for nearly 300 years , before gaining its independence in 1821

Beginning of Missionary Activities and Motivating Factors Spain conducted the expansionist activities in to The Mesoamerican Region motivated by the principle objectives of accumulating wealth and other riches of equal concern to the Spanish aim was the conversion of the Indians to Catholicism (Nancy 2-3 . The first wave of the conquistadors was closely followed by the regular clergy represented by the Franciscan and Dominican monks . The religious aspect of the Spanish colonization of Mesoamerican States is of immense significance considering the profound mutual affect between Catholic religion and the Indian Culture and the consequent birth of a new culture due to the fusion of these two cultures . The reasons which motivated the Spanish Clergy to commence the conversion programme are given in the subsequent paras

Dedicated Clergy The initial groups of clergy to arrive in Guatemala were by nature highly dedicated , zealous and committed workers of the faith . They went about their task with a passion and sense of purpose These men were very pious and took their vows of poverty very seriously the Indians saw by their example that they were pious , and respected them

Protestant reformation in Europe At this juncture , in the rest of Europe , a historical event was unfolding with the rapid spread of the Protestant Reformation Movement . To the Spanish clerics , this represented a potential threat to their faith and they were inspired to convert as many people to prevent the new competition from the north from flourishing in the newly conquered areas (Cole

Spanish Government Policy At...

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