Men of God


Men of God

Mendicant Orders in Colonial Mexico

Asunción Lavrin

Confluencias Series

424 pages
20 illustrations, 1 table, 2 graphs, index


December 2024


$99.00 Pre-order

December 2024


$45.00 Pre-order

About the Book

A broadly researched cultural history, Men of God offers a path to understanding the concept of religious masculinity through an intimate approach to the study of friars and lay brothers in colonial Mexico. Though other scholars have focused on the missionary work of the Augustinian, Franciscan, and Dominican friars, few have addressed their everyday lives and how the internal discipline of their orders shaped the men within them. In Men of God Asunción Lavrin offers a sweeping yet intimate history of the mendicant friars in New Spain from the late sixteenth century through 1800.

Focusing on these individuals’ lives from childhood through death, Lavrin explores contemporaneous ideas from how to raise a boy to the friars’ training as novices, and the similarities and differences in the life experiences of lay brothers and ordained members. She discusses their sexuality to reveal the challenges and failures of religious manhood, as well as the drive behind their missionary duties, especially in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Men of God also explores the concepts and realities of martyrdom and death, significant elements in the spirituality of the mendicant friars of colonial Mexico.

Author Bio

Asunción Lavrin is professor emerita of history at Arizona State University. She is the author or editor of many books, including Brides of Christ: Conventional Life in Colonial Mexico; Women, Feminism, and Social Change: Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, 1890–1940 (Nebraska, 1998); and Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America (Nebraska, 1992).


“Lavrin’s comparative focus on the three mendicant orders and the breadth of her chronological coverage combined with her internal focus on the gendered nature of the development of mendicant masculinities is unique and revisionist in the historiography. Men of God is truly a magnum opus in advancing our understanding of the mentality and alternate masculinity to which all the mendicant friars aspired.”—John F. Chuchiak IV, author of The Inquisition in New Spain, 1536–1820: A Documentary History

“An erudite, elegantly constructed study of friars in colonial Mexico offering an innovative way to think about friars, not necessarily as political actors or proto-ethnographers or agents of global triumphalist Catholicism. Men of God demystifies friars, who are often treated as larger than life in the scholarly corpus.”—Martin Austin Nesvig, author of Forgotten Franciscans: Works from an Inquisitional Theorist, a Heretic, and an Inquisitional Deputy

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 
1. Childhood: Prescriptions and Memories 
2. The Threshold of Religious Life: The Novitiate 
3. Lay Brothers: An Alternative Choice 
4. Sexuality: The Treacherous Flesh 
5. Missionaries: Preaching their Faith  
6. Martyrs: The Offer of Life 
7. Death: The Test of Faith