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  Featured Books: Penitentes
A Brief History
By William Farrington

Order from Sunstone Press: (800) 243-5644

One of the most fascinating, written about, and misunderstood religious groups in the world is Los Hermanos Penitentes, a Catholic brotherhood found only in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. As with all cultures, societies and organizations lacking a written literary tradition, the recorded history of the Penitentes is full of compounded errors and misinterpretations, Legends and folklore, handed down orally over the years, are open to interpretations that are, perhaps, wide of the mark. But the facts, such as they are, have come from outside observers, scholarly researchers and obvious detractors with a religious bias. Somewhere among all that has been written lies the truth, but since no hermano has ever told or written the true story, much is still left to conjecture. From the recorded facts this booklet has been compiled with, it is hoped, some measure of objectivity.

William Farrington was a professional librarian for twenty-five years in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and California. His non-fiction articles have appear in national magazines and he has served as a book reviewer for various periodicals. He is also the author of Prehistoric and Historic Pottery of the Southwest, A Bibliography, also published by Sunstone Press.

On the cover: “Three Black Shawls,” William Shuster (1893–1969), c. 1930. Etching with watercolor 3 x 3 7/8”

5 1/1 x 8 1/2
ISBN: 978-0-913270-71-4
32 pp.,$12,95

Reflections of Spanish New Mexico
By Fray Angélico Chávez

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This unusual book, Fray Angélico Chávez’s personal meditation on his cultural heritage, is also a kind of spiritual autobiography of the Hispano people of New Mexico. The spirit of New Mexico, he feels, grows out of its dry mountain terrain whose hills and valleys resemble those of Spain and of ancient Palestine. Just as this kind of landscape helped the Hebrew shepherd Abraham to find his God, so in Fray Angélico’s view, have New Mexico’s mountains kept her people close to their God. In evoking this special closeness between the divine and the human, the author returns repeatedly to the Penitentes of New Mexico—the societies of men who scourge themselves and replay the Crucifixion each Holy Week to share the sufferings of their Savior.

Some of his ideas will spark controversy over the meaning of New Mexico’s past, but Fray Angélico Chávez’s viewpoint, representing that of many native Spanish Americans, deserves the attention of every reader with an interest in the state’s Hispanic heritage. No one can read this book without gaining a new understanding of the world of the New Mexican Hispano imbedded in the dry, hilly landscape of the majestic Sangre de Cristo mountains.

Fray Angélico Chávez has been called a renaissance man and New Mexico's foremost twentieth-century humanist by biographer Ellen McCracken. Any way you measure his career, Fray Angélico Chávez was an unexpected phenomenon in the wide and sunlit land of the American Southwest. In the decades following his ordination as a Franciscan priest in 1937, Chávez performed the difficult duties of an isolated backcountry pastor. His assignments included Hispanic villages and Indian pueblos. As an army chaplain in World War II, he accompanied troops in bloody landings on Pacific islands, claiming afterwards that because of his small stature, Japanese bullets always missed him.

In time, despite heavy clerical duties, Fray Angélico managed to become an author of note as well as something of an artist and muralist. Upon all of his endeavors one finds, understandably, the imprint of his religious perspective. During nearly seventy years of writing, he published almost two dozen books. Among them were novels, essays, poetry, biographies, and histories.

All true aficionados of the American Southwest's history and culture will profit by collecting and reading the significant body of work left to us by the remarkable Fray Angé1ico Chávez. Sunstone Press has now brought back into print some of these rare titles.

Sample Chapter

7 x 10
ISBN: 978-0-86534-871-4
298 pp.,$29.95

Hermanos de la Luz/Brothers of the Light
By Ray John de Aragón

Cover illustrations by Rosa María Calles

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This is the first major study by a Hispano from New Mexico with intergenerational ties to the Penitentes--the deeply religious group called Hermanos de la Luz, Brothers of the Light. It also ties the santero folk art of New Mexico, the Penitente Brotherhood, and the Penitente religious hymns, alabados, together. De Aragón asserts that one cannot truly function without all three and herein lies the devotional beauty that has been passed down for generations in Spanish folk tradition.

Ray John de Aragón is an internationally recognized santero and writer. He has received numerous awards and is credited with producing images meant primarily for religious veneration like the original New Mexico santeros of the nineteenth century. He has always strived for authentic detail in sculpting wooden figures that most closely resemble the spiritual and folk quality of the originals. His attention to true religious detail centered on the Passion sufferings of Christ is evident in this book. He is the is the author of Padre Martínez and Bishop Lamy, The Legend of La Llorona, and Recollections of the Life of the Priest Don Antonio Jose Martínez, all from Sunstone Press.

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Website: http://books.google.com/books?id=ntl88SLXXbwC

6 X 9
ISBN: 978-0-86534-504-1
257 pp.,$24.95

By Bill Tate

Order from Sunstone Press: (800) 243-5644

The Penitentes are a secret and sacred Spanish-American brotherhood who live in the mountains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado who have pledged themselves to Christian devotions without completely withdrawing from the daily world. They have dedicated themselves in remembrance that Jesus Christ was condemned, crucified, and died on the cross for the salvation of mankind, and the expiation of his sins. Their devotions are observed usually in secret because the Penitentes believe that worship is a private matter and that one should not seek approbation for one’s sacred endeavors. They are the descendants of the vanguard of Spanish colonists who settled in the highlands of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado during the floodtide of Spanish colonization. The Penitente liturgy consists mainly of prayers called rosaries, rapturous songs called alabados, and processions. The author says, “I have no portfolio to be their apologist or oracle, but I have taken it upon myself to portray and to clarify in this book who the Penitentes are, what they do, and why, as lucidly and objectively as possible.”

Bill Tate was an artist and author who lived in the mountain village of Truchas, New Mexico where he owned and operated the Tate Gallery. His paintings hang in private collections in almost every state and many foreign countries. He served in the United States Navy and after World War II became a writer in Hollywood. After his move to New Mexico he served as a Justice of the Peace in Santa Fe and Rio Arribo counties. He has written several other books about New Mexico history and philosophy.

6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1-63293-156-6
68 pp.,$16.95

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