Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

At the heart of the Christian religion is the virtue of faith. The archbishop reflects this quality not only in the integrity of his own life but also in the extent to which he preserves, revives, and expands it among his clergy and laity. Numerous characters, such as Father Gallegos, Martinez, and Lucero, are examples of those who have lost faith because of corrupting vices. Others, such as Father Vaillant, Magdalena, and numerous others, reflect those who humbly continue in their faith.

Integral to faith is perseverance. The long arduous pastoral journeys of Bishop Latour and Father Vaillant demonstrate this devoted application of their labor in the spread of the faith. Perseverance requires courage, the ability to continuously confront and deal with hostilities and hardships.

Faith, however, sustains hope, the virtue of confidence in redemption. Through the faith that the bishop and his vicar spread, they mean to give hope to the varied and conflicted peoples among them, the numerous Indian groups, the settled Mexican cultures, and the advancing American ones.

However, within Christian moral theology, the most important virtue is love. In general, the archbishop’s life of devotion and labor reflects his love for his flock. Most important, his love is reflected in his personal relationships. Father Vaillant is his lifelong friend, someone whom he knows very well, admires, respects, and cares for. The bishop is especially alert to and respectful of the religious sensitivities of the indigenous populations, even curious and admiring of how they have synthesized both Catholic and native tradition. He is attentive to the most humble of his parishioners. His love is also “tough.” He knows how to patiently, diplomatically, and effectively remove clerics whose vices have become the antithesis of virtue.


(Novels for Students)

Because the novel relates the stories of Latour’s missionary journeys throughout New Mexico, the theme of faith is...

(The entire section is 728 words.)