Frank Graziano’s book Miraculous Images and Votive Offerings in Mexico can be purchased at the Oxford University Press online store.

“Building on a series of accomplished studies of Latin American Catholicism, Frank Graziano offers readers of Miraculous Images and Votive Offerings in Mexico a beautifully written, clearly argued account of a key aspect of Catholic visual piety. He masterfully maps and explains the sprawling cultural system of votive exchange, which accounts for miracles in everyday life in the pictorial language of petition and pledge. This book will quickly become a vital resource for students of religious images.”

—David Morgan, Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, Duke University


Mexican statues and paintings like the Virgen de Guadalupe and the Señor de Chalma are endowed with sacred presence and the power to perform miracles. Millions of devotees visit these miraculous images to request miracles for health, employment, children, and countless everyday matters. When miracles are granted, devotees reciprocate with votive offerings. Collages, photographs, documents, texts, milagritos, hair and braids, clothing, retablos, and various representative objects cover walls at many shrines.

Miraculous Images and Votive Offerings in Mexico explores such petitionary devotion in depth. The study is based on extensive fieldwork at several shrines and is supported by research in a vast, interdisciplinary body of previous scholarship. The analysis is primarily in material religion and the psychology of religion. The book is written in two voices, one interpretive to provide an understanding of miracles, miraculous images, and votive offerings; and the other narrative to illustrate the interpretive chapters and to bring the reader closer to experiences at the shrines. Chapters written in these two voices alternate throughout the book.

The study’s principal themes include sacred power and human agency, reification, projective animation, faith as a cognitive filter, sacred power transfer, social and narrative construction, positive framing, collaborative and deferred control, vows (juramentos), and miracle attribution.

Among the many miraculous images treated in the book are the Cristo Negro de Otatitlán, Niño del Cacahuatito, Señor de Chalma, Señor de la Misericordia (Tepatitlán), Señor del Rayo, Señor de las Tres Caídas (Teotilalpam), Virgen de los Dolores de Soriano, Virgen de Guadalupe, Virgen del Pueblito, Virgen de Juquila, Virgen de los Remedios, Virgen de San Juan de los Lagos, Virgen de Talpa, Virgen de Tonatico, and the Virgen de Zapopan.