Welcome to the Academy of American Franciscan History Bookstore! Here you will find the latest titles offered in the field of Franciscan History in the Americas. To view ordering information, simply click on the image of the book!

Seeing Jesus in the Eyes of the Oppressed 

A History of Franciscans Working for Peace and Justice 

Paul T. Murray 


Following World War II, the United States enjoyed unprecedented prosperity as the post war economy exploded. While Americans pondered affluence, U.S. Franciscans focused on the forgotten members of U.S. society, those who had been left out or left behind. Seeing Jesus in the Eyes of the Oppressed tells the story of eight Franciscans and their communities who struggled to create a more just and equitable society. Through eight mini-biographies, Paul T. Murray, professor emeritus at Siena College, explores Franciscan efforts to establish racial and economic justice and to promote peace and nonviolence: Father Nathaniel Machesky led the battle for civil rights in Greenwood, MS; Sister Antona Ebo was one of two African American Sisters at the Selma march; Brother Booker Ashe worked for interracial justice and Black pride in Milwaukee; Sister Thea Bowman celebrated Black gifts to the U.S. Church and worked toward an expression of the faith that was “authentically Black and truly Catholic;” Father Alan McCoy pushed his community and the Church in the United States to greater engagement with Social Justice; Sister Pat Drydyk worked with Cesar Chavez for justice for the farmworkers; Father Joseph Nangle brought solidarity with Latin America to the fore in the U.S. Church, and Father Louis Vitale used civil disobedience to oppose nuclear proliferation, while serving the poor and homeless. In all, the book emphasizes the passion and struggle of Franciscans in the United States to create a more just world within society and within the Church.

FACING FLORIDA: Essays on Culture and Religion in Early Modern Southeastern America



Facing Florida is the third volume of a series sponsored by the Academy of American Franciscan History and Flagler College exploring the Franciscan legacy in the Spanish Borderlands. This volume focuses specifically on early modern southeastern America. The volume’s multidisciplinary approach, Dr. Kathleen Deagan notes in the introduction, provides us “with new multivalent scholarship that often challenges prevailing assumptions about motives, social relations and power structures in the mission systems.”

Despite the diversity of topics in the volume, several thematic threads run through the essays. One is a concern with locating belief, motive and intention in past actors. Eliciting thought and belief in the past is a notoriously murky undertaking, but one that is directly relevant to understanding the legacy of the Franciscan project in America. Another thread in the volume is a concern with language and meaning, particularly in the ways language has conditioned how we understand the past from written and iconographic sources. A third is “exemplars,” with a meaning similar to that used by Franciscan friars in conversion. Many of the essays in the volume incorporate historical anecdote, but some of the contributors highlight the ways that foregrounding a particular individual or event can bring important but underrepresented issues into sharper focus.

The result is an important new collection that explores innovative avenues in the study of southeastern American Indian culture and religion prior to the 1900s.

Charity for and by the Poor: Franciscan and Indigenous Confraternities in Mexico, 1527–1700

By Laura Dierksmeier


Spanish colonization of Latin America in the sixteenth century continues to provoke scholarly debate. Spanish missionaries employed various strategies to convert indigenous inhabitants to the Catholic faith, including operating schools, organizing choirs, and establishing charitable brotherhoods known as confraternities.

In Charity for and by the Poor, Laura Dierksmeier investigates how the reformed Franciscans’ commitment to evangelizing Mexico gave rise to an extensive network of local confraternities and their respective care institutions. She finds that these local groups were the chief welfare providers for the indigenous people during the early colonial period and were precursors of the modern social security system. Dierksmeier shows how the Franciscan missionary imperative to promote the works of mercy and charity inspired the goals, governance, and operations of indigenous confraternities, their hospital and orphan care, and their contributions to the moral economy, including releasing debt prisoners and lending money to the poor.

Focusing on the inner logic and daily practices of indigenous confraternities, Charity for and by the Poor highlights their far-reaching effects on Mexican society. Dierksmeier argues that confraternities are best studied within the religious framework that established them, and she does so by analyzing confraternity record books, lawsuits, last wills, missionary correspondence, and parish records from archives in Mexico, Spain, the United States, and Germany.

The confraternity became an essential institution for protecting the indigenous population during epidemics, for integrating the various indigenous classes from the former Aztec Empire into the emerging social order, and for safeguarding indigenous self-governance within religious spheres. Most notably, Franciscan-established confraternities built social structures in which the poor were not only recipients of assistance but also, through their voluntary participation, self-empowered agents of community care. In this way, charity was provided for and by the poor.Laura Dierksmeier is a postdoctoral researcher in the Early Modern History Department and the DFG collaborative research center ResourceCultures at the University of Tübingen in Germany. With Fabian Fechner and Kazuhisa Takeda she coedited Indigenous Knowledge as a Resource: Transmission, Reception, and Interaction of Knowledge between the Americas and Europe, 1492–1800.

From la California to la Florida: Franciscan Evangelization in the Spanish Borderlands: Essays from a Conference Hosted by Flagler College, St. Augustine, Florida

By Timothy J. Johnson and Gert Melville


The thirteenth-century Franciscan Roger Bacon wrote “Place is the principle of the generation of things”(Opus majus, 301). Simply put, places have agency; they make things happen. The city of St. Augustine is just such a place, and the Franciscan friars who arrived there as early as the sixteenth century shaped the city’s history and surrounding region for over two centuries. In view of the 450th anniversary (2015) of St. Augustine, Flagler College hosted an International Conference (March 24-26, 2011), entitled “From La Florida to La California: The Genesis and Realization of Franciscan Evangelization in the Spanish Borderlands.”

This gathering brought together anthropologists, archeologists, historians, linguists, and theologians from both sides of the Atlantic to examine the political, cultural, and spiritual impact of the Franciscans on the human geographies of Florida, Georgia, Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The conference essays, gathered in this volume, are the first systematic study of Franciscan missionary efforts throughout the Spanish Borderlands. They reveal that the momentous encounter between the Old and New World, still evident today in St. Augustine, cannot be divorced from the story of the poor man from Assisi and those who followed him.

By Jeffrey M. Burns and Timothy J. Johnson


Founded in 1565, St. Augustine was the multicultural, and often embattled, outpost of the Spanish empire. St. Augustine’s economic, political, and religious power was reflected in other towns and villages that stretched across the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Scholars frequently refer to this broad swath of territories as the “Spanish Borderlands.” Of those who accompanied the Spanish to these lands, it was members of the Franciscan Order who, as missionaries, had the most direct contact and interaction with the diverse populations of American Indians.

As the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine drew near, scholars from the Americas and Europe gathered on Mar 13-15, 2014, for the conference, “Franciscan Florida in Pan-Borderlands Perspective: Adaptation, Negotiation, and Resistance” at Flagler College in St. Augustine. The expressed intent of the gathering was, as David Hurst Thomas writes in the Introduction, to “address issues of acculturation, political and economic relations, religious conversions, and the nature of multiethnic relationships across the Spanish Borderlands.”

The result is a rich collection of essays from anthropologists, archaeologists, linguists, historians, and theologians. Diverse contributions of the Navajo, Hopi, and California tribal members in attendance was a reminder of the complexity of the thematic and an on-going challenge to continue research into new, and yet unexplored territories.

Timothy J. Johnson is the Craig and Audrey Thorn Distinguished Professor of Religion at Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida.
Jeffrey M. Burns is the Director of the Academy of American Franciscan History at the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside, California.

Voice of Empathy: A History of Franciscan Media in the United States

By Raymond Haberski, Jr.


Where do we find religion? In places of worship? For many, it can be found in the activities of daily life, from shopping for groceries and making dinner to falling in love and raising children. How do historians write this history? How do they record the significance of religious culture expressed through the mundane and the extraordinary–from letters to magazines to praying for miracles at shrines? This study offers more than a century’s worth of religion lived through media, particularly Franciscan media.

From the late nineteenth century through the present, Franciscan media have offered Catholics in the United States ways to reflect on and react to the issues of daily life: family, sex, children, obedience to church doctrine (from dietary requirements to treatment of divorced Catholics), communism, and even the moral dimensions of popular culture, especially movies. Interaction through media helped shape Catholic identity, revealing the difficulty of living as a Catholic in modern America. Franciscans wrote for magazines, produced radio shows, developed film projects, and understood that to reach people, they needed to appeal to the heart as well as to the head–to speak to the emotion of living one’s Catholicism as well as thinking about what Catholicism means. Voice of Empathy uses a spectrum of sources, from letters to priests in print magazines such as St. Anthony Messenger to scripts for shows such as The Hour of St. Francis to the multi-platform work of Mother Angelica and Father Richard Rohr, to highlight the fluid engagement between faith and the secular world. The social, economic, political, and cultural developments that gave shape to Franciscan media also became the context in which Franciscans forged particular approaches to their pastoral ministry. Of particular note, Voice of Empathy deals extensively with the central role women have played in Franciscan media as consumers, producers, and shapers of lived Catholicism.

Sustaining the Divine in Mexico Tenochtitlan: Nahuas and Catholicism, 1523–1700

By Jonathan Truitt

What happened to indigenous life after contact with the Spanish? In the complex interaction of cultures, how and to what degree did traditional ways persist? What role did religion play?

Sustaining the Divine in Mexico Tenochtitlan addresses these and other questions by focusing on Mexico City in the colonial era. Moving beyond the standard narrative of Spanish domination, author Jonathan Truitt uses Nahuatl- and Spanish-language sources, drawn from multiarchival and multinational research, to provide an innovative look at indigenous life on the southern half of the island capital of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. While Spanish authority was important, indeed central, it was far from omnipotent and depended each day on the assistance of the indigenous people. In many ways, Nahua life continued much as it had prior to Spanish contact. While certain elements of precontact life, such as public human sacrifice, were eliminated, others, such as traditional gender roles or belief in divinity, persisted.

Before and after contact, religion was central to life on the island capital. Truitt uses Spanish and indigenous interactions with religion as a window on daily life in the city. As quickly becomes clear, Nahua men and women were active in most areas of city life. They took pride in their achievements, defended their religious buildings, fought against abuse, and ignored the idea that women should not be active members of the community. While change occurred during this era, it was controlled and directed as much, if not more, by the indigenous population as by the Spanish.

Truitt’s innovative use of previously neglected Nahua and Spanish documents sheds new light on indigenous life in New Spain, making Sustaining the Divine in Mexico Tenochtitlan an important contribution to a deeper understanding of the era.


Many Tongues, One Faith: A History of Franciscan Parish Life in the United States

By David J. Endres


The history of Franciscan parishes in the United States mirrors the social, religious and cultural shifts brought about by repeated waves of immigrants to the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This study offers a glimpse into the struggles of Franciscan priests, sisters, and laity attempting to live out their faith amidst the challenges of the time: religious bigotry, racial and ethnic strife, and cultural and religious challenges. The Franciscan experience provides an important element in the tapestry of the American experience.

Readers of this work will learn about the Franciscan priest who persuaded his fellow Polish immigrants to engage in an ill-fated settlement experiment in Texas. They will learn about Franciscan efforts to evangelize Native Americans, the Menominee at Keshena, Wisconsin, utilizing catechetical material in the natives’ language. Readers will become acquainted with one of the first Italian churches in New York City, St. Anthony of Padua, where a multiethnic parish gave rise to disputes over leadership in the community. In Los Angeles, the parish of St. Lawrence of Brindisi is highlighted, providing an exploration of ministry to an impoverished community located near the epicenter of the 1965 Watts riots. And readers will be transported to the serene setting of ruralnorthern Ohio where a Marian shrine has been the site of dozens ofclaimed miraculous healings.

While the portraits of fourteen Franciscan parishes contained in this work are diverse–geographically, ethnically, and chronologically–they collectively witness to the distinctiveness of the Franciscan charism of embracing poverty, fostering community, offering reconciliation, and serving those on society’s margins. Their story is part of the American story.

By Arelis Rivero Cabrera

Franciscans—also known as the order of Saint Francis—were the first friars to establish themselves in Cuban territory, subsequently creating the most extensive network of convents on the island. As members of the largest order in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, these friars were part of an attempt to bring faith to the native peoples of the New World. Author Arelis Cabrera uses primary sources to assess the role played by the Franciscans in Cuba’s colonial past.

Cabrera explores the expansion of the Seraphic order, which led to the presence of friars in every major town in Cuba, and how the socioeconomic health of the town impacted the establishment of its religious buildings. The evolution of the Seraphic order over three hundred years—from the joining of friars on Christopher Columbus’ second voyage to the Americas up until Spain’s Trienio Liberal government rule in the 1800s—is examined, showing the rise and decline of Franciscans in Cuba.

The legacy these friars left on Cuba cannot be understated, as they helped in shaping the island’s history and religion in the forms of pastoral care, funeral services, education and healthcare and more. Commitment Beyond Rules is the fascinating story of one religion’s impact on part of the New World.

In Service of Two Masters: The Missionaries of Ocopa, Indigenous Resistance, and Spanish Governance in Bourbon Peru

By Cameron D. Jones


By the early 1700s, the vast scale of the Spanish Empire led crown authorities to rely on local institutions to carry out their political agenda, including religious orders like the Franciscan mission of Santa Rosa de Ocopa in the Peruvian Amazon. This book follows the Ocopa missions through the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a period marked by events such as the indigenous Juan Santos Atahualpa Rebellion and the 1746 Lima earthquake. Caught between the directives of the Spanish crown and the challenges of missionary work on the Amazon frontier, the missionaries of Ocopa found themselves at the center of a struggle over the nature of colonial governance.

Cameron D. Jones reveals the changes that Spain’s far-flung empire experienced from borderland Franciscan missions in Peru to the court of the Bourbon monarchy in Madrid, arguing that the Bourbon clerical reforms that broadly sought to bring the empire under greater crown control were shaped in turn by groups throughout the Americas, including Ocopa friars, the Amerindians and Africans in their missions, and bureaucrats in Lima and Madrid. Far from isolated local incidents, Jones argues that these conflicts were representative of the political struggles over clerical reform occurring throughout Spanish America on the eve of independence.

To Sin No More: Franciscans and Conversion in the Hispanic World, 1683-1830

By David Rex Galindo


For 300 years, Franciscans were at the forefront of the spread of Catholicism in the New World. In the late seventeenth century, Franciscans developed a far-reaching, systematic missionary program in Spain and the Americas. After founding the first college of propaganda fide in the Mexican city of Querétaro, the Franciscan Order established six additional colleges in New Spain, ten in South America, and twelve in Spain. From these colleges Franciscans proselytized Indians in frontier territories as well as Catholics in rural and urban areas in eighteenth-century Spain and Spanish America.

To Sin No More is the first book to study these colleges, their missionaries, and their multifaceted, sweeping missionary programs. By focusing on the recruitment of non-Catholics to Catholicism as well as the deepening of religious fervor among Catholics, David Rex Galindo shows how the Franciscan colleges expanded and shaped popular Catholicism in the eighteenth-century Spanish Atlantic world. This book explores the motivations driving Franciscan friars, their lives inside the colleges, their training, and their ministry among Catholics, an often-overlooked duty that paralleled missionary deployments. Rex Galindo argues that Franciscan missionaries aimed to reform or “reawaken” Catholic parishioners just as much as they sought to convert non-Christian Indians.

Twilight of the Mission Frontier: Shifting Interethnic Alliances and Social Organization in Sonora, 1768-1855

By Jose Refugio De La Torre Curiel


Twilight of the Mission Frontier examines the long process of mission decline in Sonora, Mexico after the Jesuit expulsion in 1767. By reassessing the mission crisis paradigm—which speaks of a growing internal crisis leading to the secularization of the missions in the early nineteenth century—new light is shed on how demographic, cultural, economic, and institutional variables modified life in the Franciscan missions in Sonora.

During the late eighteenth century, forms of interaction between Sonoran indigenous groups and Spanish settlers grew in complexity and intensity, due in part to the implementation of reform-minded Bourbon policies which envisioned a more secular, productive, and modern society. At the same time, new forms of what this book identifies as pluriethnic mobility also emerged. Franciscan missionaries and mission residents deployed diverse strategies to cope with these changes and results varied from region to region, depending on such factors as the missionaries’ backgrounds, Indian responses to mission life, local economic arrangements, and cultural exchanges between Indians and Spaniards.

Nahua and Maya Catholicisms: Texts and Religion in Colonial Central Mexico and Yucatan

By Mark Christensen


Nahua and Maya Catholicisms examines ecclesiastical texts written in Nahuatl and Yucatec Maya to illustrate the role of these texts in conveying and reflecting various Catholic messages—and thus Catholicisms—throughout colonial Central Mexico and Yucatan. It demonstrates how published and unpublished sermons, confessional manuals, catechisms, and other religious texts betray “official” and “unofficial” versions of Catholicism, and how these versions changed throughout the colonial period according to indigenous culture, local situations, and broader early modern events. The book’s study of these texts also allows for a better appreciation of the negotiations that occurred during the evangelization process between native and Spanish cultures, the center and periphery, and between official expectations and everyday realities. And by employing both Nahuatl and Maya religious texts, Nahua and Maya Catholicism allows for a uniquely comparative study that expands beyond Central Mexico to include Yucatan.