Synopses & Reviews
In June 1931, on a hillside in the Spanish Basque country, two children reported seeing the Virgin Mary. Within weeks, hundreds of seers were attracting tens of thousands of onlookers, and the nightly spectacle gave rise to others in dozens of towns across Spain. Visionaries explores the experience and the larger meaning of this wave.
Immersing himself in the lives of the visionaries, William Christian retraced their steps and recreated their world. He spoke with hundreds of witnesses, who led him to caches of vision messages, diaries, clandestine publications, and eloquent photographs. He describes two kinds of visionaries and their relation to each other: the seers who had visions of Mary and the saints, and the believers who had a vision for the future, which they hoped Mary and the saints would confirm. Together, these visionaries attempted to convince a skeptical world that heavenly beings were appearing on the Iberian peninsula. By turns intense, poignant, fierce, and funny, this long-hidden history demonstrates the vital role of the extraordinary in giving voice to a society's hope and anguish.
"William Christian shows clearsighted discernment about the workings of faith and the politics of the supernatural, but he never loses touch with the hunger and vulnerability of human beings in their quest for the sacred. Visionaries
is an astonishing book of profound research and humane wisdom."and#151;Marina Warner, author of Six Myths of Our Time
"A rich and wonderful book. . . . Beautifully written, leisurely in pace, complex not only in analytical categories but also in human sensitivity, this study of Catholic religiosity in the 1930s sheds light on fundamental aspects of human spirituality and psychology and on the sophisticated questions we alland#151;scholars and ordinary readers alikeand#151;must ask about how society constructs, uses, and eclipses the wondrous. With wise methodological apercus and stunning human stories on every page, this is a book not so much to read as to savourand#151;to dip into often and to meditate upon at length."and#151;Caroline W. Bynum, author of Holy Feast and Holy Fast
About the Author
William A. Christian Jr., winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, has published widely on Spanish religion, including Moving Crucifixes in Modern Spain (1992).