The Hidden World of Mexican Nuns
December 31, 2017 4:27 PM   Subscribe

Photographer Marcela Taboada: "In Puebla, Mexico, where I grew up, some Catholic churches are more than 400 years old. The first sisters here helped the Spanish spread Catholicism in Mexico. But many of the nuns stay secluded in their convents, forbidden to engage with the world. When I was a kid they seemed like legends to me. Gaining access to their world wasn’t easy. When I’d knock on a convent door, they’d tell me to go away—then slam the door in my face. But I was stubborn and persistent, and eventually they let me in."

Plus many more photos of convent life from Marcela Taboada's site.
posted by roger ackroyd (7 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Being from Mexico I find that we have a love/hate affair with nuns:
Love: desserts, candy, food (the "National" dishes: mole & chiles en nogada were invented by them), popes (rum with things like eggs and vanilla), education (Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, arguably the most famous mexican woman)

Hate: lecturing, punishments (pellizcos), education (rigidity & often, abuse), extreme conservatism, intolerance, bigotry.
posted by omegar at 7:52 PM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've always found the attire worn by Priest and Nuns/Sisters to be confusing. I guess you have to be born into the faith to recognize all the various uniforms.
posted by Beholder at 9:42 PM on December 31, 2017

I’m married and have kids but sometimes I wonder if I would have been a happy nun. Lots of silence and meditation plus possibly kitchen work for me...the 4.45am wake up doesn’t sound fun, though.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:57 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

I chose to believe that the nun with a crown just started wearing it one day and no one has had the gall to question it since.
posted by vorpal bunny at 12:15 AM on January 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding Omegar.

This is interesting, makes me think there may be good cloistered nuns, with good hearts and a deep spiritual life.

But the nuns we see more often in Mexico, the ones that teach in schools, have damaged so many generations of children it makes me angry just to see them walking down the street. My mother and aunts shave countless stories that go from physical abuse to the unbelievable ignorance and bigotry (one of the weirdest ones is when they spent a 3 day retreat praying for the death of Fidel Castro)

As the old joke goes:
- ¿En la escuela de monjas enseñan puras madres?
- No, también enseñan a multiplicar.
posted by Index Librorum Prohibitorum at 2:10 AM on January 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've always found the attire worn by Priest and Nuns/Sisters to be confusing

The Carmelite order of nuns wears a habit that is sort of caramel colored. I'm not sure if there's an etymological link, there. (Although I did wonder if the movie "Sister Act" has a deep Catholic joke or just an error - where the not-Carmelite-dressed nuns are looking for Whoopi Goldberg's character they're asking people if they've seen a "Carmelite nun," which is either an ignorant mistake, or a deep-knowledge Catholic pun based on them looking for a Black woman with skin close to the color of a Carmelite habit)
posted by rmd1023 at 9:54 AM on January 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

I worked for 5 years in Catholic high school, where the sisters lived in an apartment building on the same property. I have gone to several retreats and to a few different centers that were owned and managed by them. The photos show all that I admired about the sisters - they can be really sweet and joyous, lots of laughter, everything is always very clean, and tidy, except for the usually gorgeous religious paintings and relics - oh and they cook hearty and tasty meals!
posted by Locochona at 7:38 PM on January 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

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