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This article recreates the everyday experiences of rural Catholics in Mexico during the Church–State crisis of the 1920s and the cristero revolt (1926–9) against Mexico's post-revolutionary regime. Focusing on the archdiocese of Michoacán in western Mexico, the article contends that the 1920s should be viewed not only as a period of political tension between Church and State, but as a period of attempted cultural revolution when the very beliefs of Mexican Catholics were under attack. It is then argued that the behaviour of many Catholics during the cristero revolt is best described not as overt counter-revolutionism, but as defensive cultural and spiritual resistance designed to thwart the state's secularising aims by reaffirming and reproducing proscribed Catholic rituals and practices in collaboration with the parish clergy. The article then examines Catholic strategies of resistance during the cristero revolt and their consequences, above all the parochialisation and laicisation of the Church.