Latin American Studies
The life of colonial Latin American women wasn’t easy in 18th and 19th centuries as they had less rights and opportunities than med had. Actually, women were expected to express modesty and piety, to organize spiritual and social lives of their husbands. Moreover, women were expected to lead the household and to bear children, whereas men took dominant positions in society. Therefore, the chapter “The Brides of Christ” provides examination and description of women in colonial Latin American emphasizing their religious and spiritual life. Special attention in the chapter is paid to women convents, monasteries and other institutions as it was claimed that women should be religious as it ensures personal piety.
The chapter offers interesting story about Juana who had the choice to marry a men to or to enter the monastery. In contrast to many other women, she decided to marry God and to become a member of female group in colonial society. In that century monasteries were important for colonial women as they provided women with surrogate family and alternative life style. In other words, convents provided women with things they didn’t have in everyday life in society. Further, in such a way society was relieved from the surplus of elite woman. Convents and other religious institutions provided shelter for unmarried and anomalous women, as well as for wealthy women. All convents were situated in city area and provided with protection, religious advisers and patrons.
Summing up, monasteries and convents served not only religious needs; it was respectful for women to enter them. For example, every respected family chose one daughter to enter the monastery as it was the sign of material success. Visiting convents enhanced social status and underlined religiosity and piety of respected or wealthy women in society. So, the chapter highlights the role of convents in Latin America trying to reveal why women chose the clandestine life in the monastery.