Enjatla Alichi: Biografía del Obispo XXIII de Durango (“Little God”: Biography of The XXIII Bishop of Durango)

Miguel Jorge Zubiria Estrada Berg

Publisher: Palibrio Pages: 354 Price: (paperback) $34.95 ISBN: 9781463351656 Reviewed: September, 2013 Author Website: Visit »

This biography of the XXIII Bishop of Durango, Don José Antonio Laureano Zubiria y Escalante (1791-1863), encompasses an extensive account of this Mexican bishop’s life. The bishop earned a cult following due to his rumored healing powers and political presence during Mexico’s Reform War. The author attributes his own recuperation from a stroke to the divine intervention of this man, a relative, and vowed to document his story, as he does in these two volumes.

Although each volume lacks an appropriately informative introduction or a closing section—which makes the book as a whole hard to follow—the narrative provides some valuable insight into the time period. Volume one includes data about the bishop’s baptism, school years, miraculous prayers and actions, complete speeches, and the circumstances of the war that forced him to flee under persecution and live underground until his death.

The appearance of volume two will come as a surprise to those who didn’t read the index. The second part—dedicated to the bishop’s activities with parishes in Durango, Santa Fe, Chihuahua and other cities in Mexico—offers painstaking details of his world. Even financial accounts of the churches he worked with are included, itemizing such things as how many sheep, the number of staff and how much money the institutions had.

The author uses some unorthodox formatting that is distracting, including all caps for title heads, names and entire sections (such as the acknowledgments and dedication pages); the equal sign after the salutation in letters; and quotation marks for names. This could easily be corrected in a subsequent version.

In sum, theological historians may be willing to decipher the material here in search of a story, but a popular audience will likely find the lack of a cohesive narrative tying all these items together frustrating and, ultimately, unsatisfying.

Also available in e-book.

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