PERSONAL: Male. Education: Certified minister; Ph.D. Religion: Roman Catholic.
ADDRESSES: Home—CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, University of Oklahoma Press, 2800 Venture Dr., Norman, OK 73069-8218.
CAREER: St. John's Seminary College, Camarillo, CA, former professor and president. Entered Congregation of the Mission, (Vincentian Community); Vincentian Studies Institute, Western Province, archivist and editor, 1980-96.
Seminary in Crisis, Herder and Herder (New York, NY), 1965.
(Translator and editor) Bartolomé de las Casas, In Defense of the Indians; The Defense of the Most Reverend Lord, Don Fray Bartolomé de las Ca-sas, of the Order of Preachers, Late Bishop of Chiapa, Against the Persecutors and Slanderers of the Peoples of the New World Discovered across the Sea, Northern Illinois University Press (DeKalb, IL), 1974.
(With Douglas J. Slawson) Church and Slave in Perry County, Missouri, 1818-1865, E. Mellen Press (Lewistown, NY), 1986.
(With Charles H. Lippy and Robert Choquette) Christianity Comes to America, 1492-1776, Paragon House (New York, NY), 1992.
Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531-1797, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 1995.
(With Betty Ann McNeil, Martha Beaudoin, and Edward Udovic) The Vincentian Family Tree: A Genealogical Study, Vincentian Studies Institute (Chicago, IL), 1996.
(Translator and editor, with Lisa Sousa and James Lockhart) Luis Laso de la Vega, The Story of Guadalupe: Luis Laso de la Vega's Huei tlamahuicoltica of 1649, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1998.
Juan de Ovando: Governing the Spanish Empire in the Reign of Phillip II, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2004.
Contributor of articles to journals, including Ethnohistory.
SIDELIGHTS: Stafford Poole is a Roman Catholic priest in the Vincentian Community, and a former professor and president of St. John's Seminary College in Camarillo, California. He has also written, edited, and translated several books dealing with Christianity in the New World and with the Mexican cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Teaming up with Charles H. Lippy and Robert Choquette on 1991's Christianity Comes to America, 1492-1776, Poole helps to "track the early development of Christianity in the Americas in a clear, succinct format appealing to general readers," according to a critic for Publishers Weekly. While the other authors focused on French and British America, Poole dealt with the arrival of Christianity in Spanish and Portuguese America of the time. The timeline is from the initial discovery and colonization of the Americas by Columbus in 1492 up to the American Revolution in 1776. The authors' account is, in the words of the Publishers Weekly reviewer, "replete with villainy and heroism." Similarly, Edward J. Cashin, reviewing the same title in the Historian, found it "full of surprises and insights." Cashin added that Poole "is a master of his material and writes with assurance."
In Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531-1797, Poole explores another feature of Christianity in Spanish America: that of Guadalupe. In 1531 a peasant supposedly saw a vision of the Virgin Mary on the hill outside his village in central Mexico. The Virgin's visage was also impressed on the man's cloak when he went to see a doubting bishop. From that time on, the hill became a place of pilgrimage for many of the indigenous people of Mexico and was renamed Guadalupe in honor of the Spanish shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Over the centuries Guadalupe has become the patroness of Mexico and has been recognized by numerous popes. The peasant who first saw the vision was canonized in 2002. As Fernando Cervantes noted in a Journal of Ecclesiastical History review of Our Lady of Guadalupe, "the hold of the devotion [of Guadalupe] of the Mexican people is impossible to exaggerate. It has been seen as the foundation of national identity, as a link between pre-Hispanic and modern times, [and] as a rallying point uniting a racially complex society."
According to America reviewer Allan Figueroa Deck, Poole produces a "lucid and readable history of the first three centuries of Guadalupan devotion." Using documents of the time, Poole concludes, as Deck noted, that "there is no objective historical basis for the story of the Guadalupan apparitions." For Deck, Poole is an "accomplished historian of colonial Mexico," and this work is "admirable." Likewise, Ernest S. Sweeney, reviewing Our Lady of Guadalupe in Theological Studies, called the book a "systematic inquiry by an established historian of colonial Mexico." Sweeney further commented that Poole is "sure-footed in his journey through the archival and secondary material" and "fearless, objective, and balanced in his search of the truth." However, Sweeney went on to note that while Poole "makes a compelling case for his interpretation of the Guadalupe phenomenon," it is unlikely that his work will "shake the foundations of popular religion." And Susan Deans-Smith, writing in Latin American Research Review, found that "Poole's carefully crafted discussion … provides considerable insight into the broader cultural and political contexts and contingencies in which the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe was constructed."
Poole expands on the history of Guadalupe with his translation and editing, along with James Lockhart and Lisa Sousa, of The Story of Guadalupe: Luis Laso de la Vega's Huei tlamahuicoltica of 1649. Father Luis Laso de la Vega wrote, according to Sonya Lipsett-Rivera in Canadian Journal of History, "one of the most influential accounts of the Guadalupe legend in Nahuatl." That the account was written in one of the indigenous languages of Central America has made it virtually inaccessible to the wide range of scholars who do not read Nahuatl. Thus Poole's and his colleagues' translation, with both languages side-by-side, is a valuable research tool in itself. Additionally, according to Lipsett-Rivera, the translation also "provides an erudite examination of Nahuatl text as well as an essay of great use for the growing group of Nahuatl scholars." The same reviewer concluded, "The editors of this volume have done a fine job in making an important document more widely available and in providing both specialists and nonspecialists with an easily accessible introduction to the study of a Nahuatl text." For Caterina Pizzigoni, writing in the Journal of American Studies, the book provides not only an "original analysis that has generated discussion and controversy," but also "proves to be a tool of great utility for advanced students to learn about formal and elevated Nahuatl."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, September 30, 1995, Allan Figueroa Deck, review of Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531-1797, p. 25.
Canadian Journal of History, April, 2000, Sonya Lipsett-Rivera, review of The Story of Guadalupe: Luis Laso de la Vega's Huei tlamahuicoltica of 1649, p. 192.
Historian, winter, 1993, Edward J. Cashin, review of Christianity Comes to America, 1492-1776, p. 394.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, October, 1996, Fernando Cervantes, review of Our Lady of Guadalupe, p. 739.
Journal of Latin American Studies, November, 2004, Caterina Pizzigoni, review of The Story of Guadalupe, p. 815.
Latin American Research Review, winter, 1998, Susan Deans-Smith, review of Our Lady of Guadalupe, p. 257.
Publishers Weekly, December 6, 1991, review of Christianity Comes to America, 1492-1776, p. 63.
Theological Studies, June, 1996, Ernest S. Sweeney, review of Our Lady of Guadalupe, p. 382.
Paragon House Web site, http://www.paragonhouse.com/ (February 25, 2005).
University of Oklahoma Press Web site, http://www.oupress.com/ (March 10, 2005).