In the fall of 1874, in the midst a particularly severe round of Church-state conflict, Mexico's archbishop, Pelagio Antonio Labastida y Dávalos, introduced a novel weapon in the Catholic Church's struggle against liberal anticlericalism. He had sought and obtained a special dispensation from Pope Pius IX for all Mexicans to participate in a “spiritual pilgrimage,” a month-long exercise of mental travel, prayer, and contemplation that would figuratively transport the faithful out of Mexico's anticlerical milieu and into the purified air of Jerusalem, Rome, and other Old World holy sites, where they would pray for divine intercession on behalf of the embattled Church. The practice had been inaugurated a year earlier by lay Catholics in Bologna, as a response to the prohibition of mass pilgrimages in the flesh in the former Papal States. Labastida y Dávalos felt that spiritual pilgrimage could be especially effective in Mexico, where the anticlerical government of Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada had embarked on a radical program of secularization. In fact, the recently codified Laws of Reform had likewise prohibited acts of public religiosity in Mexico, attempting thus to suppress the myriad local processions and mass pilgrimages that helped to define Mexican Catholicism.