Publication Title

The Ashgate Research Companion to the Counter-Reformation

Document Type

Book Chapter - Open Access

Department or Program


Second Department or Program

Latin American Studies

Publication Date



The Franciscan missionaries entered the town barefoot, carrying a large cross and an image of Christ crucified. They prayed the rosary and sang religious songs on the way to the church where they declared to the gathering crowd that they were there as ambassadors of Christ, ready to help people become good Christians. More people gathered at the church, brought by messengers who ran through the streets, ringing bells and shouting, 'To the mission! To the mission!'. They and the missionaries then set out on formal procession through the town, walking in silence. They stopped occasionally for the friars to explain to new listeners why they had come, and then resumed their hushed journey. Back at the church, prayers and a blessing concluded the ceremony.1 This carefully choreographed opening of a mission was one of many such events organized throughout the early modern world. This one, however, does not fit neatly into how most scholarship classifies missions. It was not run by Europeans seeking to introduce the Gospel to nonChristian people outside Europe. Nor was it one of the 'popular missions' that took place throughout Europe and which sought to make people better Catholics. Instead, this description comes from a popular mission outside Europe, one directed to an already Christianized audience and one sharing with its European counterparts the post-Tridentine goal of creating a better-educated and more pious population.

Required Publisher's Statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Taylor & Francis in The Ashgate Research Companion to the Counter-Reformation on [date of publication], available online: