Did Guatemala really ban the Magnificat in the 1980s?
December 7, 2014 8:03 AM   Subscribe

In doing research on the Magnificat (Mary's Song in Luke 1 in the New Testament), I keep running across references to the public recitation of the Magnificat having been banned in Guatemala in the 1980s. This smells like a legend to me, but I'd like to know for sure. Is there any truth to this idea?

Obviously, a lot of people are saying it happened, but I'd really like a primary source that proves it.
posted by Pater Aletheias to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The oldest reference I've been able to find is in Kathleen Norris' Meditations on Mary, published in 1999. She writes, "...during the 1980's the government of Guatemala banned its public recitation (a sanction that I'm sure the monasteries of that country violated daily)." You can do a search on Google books here.

There are also some references to the British banning it in India during the colonial rule.
posted by lharmon at 9:34 AM on December 7, 2014

This is from a brief article written in the Chicago Sun-Times by Larry Stammer on Feb. 7 1993 called "Theologians Question Role of Virgin Mary":

"In Guatemala, the mother of Jesus became a fulcrum for liberation theology's social justice movement, compelling the government to ban the singing of the Song of Mary or the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) as subversive. In it Mary proclaims that God will bring down the mighty, raise up the lowly and feed the hungry. "

Still can't find a primary source from the '80's, though.
posted by lharmon at 10:02 AM on December 7, 2014

Best answer: I just did some searches in Spanish and found nothing, although some English-language references to the supposed ban did pop up. I found this comment by a Wiki editor who wasn't able to find any independent corroboration. Make of that what you will. I'd be interested to know what you find.
posted by Partario at 10:42 AM on December 7, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the help so far. I'll keep digging.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:58 AM on December 7, 2014

Best answer: > I found this comment by a Wiki editor who wasn't able to find any independent corroboration.

To save people the trouble of clicking through (and in case it vanishes in some Wikiquake), here's the relevant part:
I removed the account of the prohibition of the Magnificat in Guatemala in the 1980's after I failed in a concerted effort to find any support for it. The book that was previously cited in the article only mentions the prohibition as a means of making an unrelated point and offers no further support for the story.

The account is found very widely on the internet (in published sermons and in blogs, mostly with reference to Guatemala, sometimes Nicaragua, once even Costa Rica[!]), but never with any further support. I could find no reference to the law itself, nor any first-hand accounts of the decree or enforcement of such a law.
It certainly sounds like an urban legend. I too will be interested to know what you find.
posted by languagehat at 11:39 AM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could try asking the person who wrote this legal research guide for Guatemala. There is contact info on that webpage.
posted by interplanetjanet at 11:48 AM on December 7, 2014

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