Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (1585–1652) was one of the early Jesuits in the region of Paraguay, sent to evangelize among the Guaraní people. As part of this campaign, Jesuits established reducciones, or urbanized settlements of Guaraní. Faced with a challenge to their spiritual and temporal powers, some Guaraní chiefs led an anti–Christian movement. The shrine that Ruiz describes finding was likely one housing the bones of a dead shaman, an indigenous priest, which were an important locus of worship for the Guaraní.
The shrines that the Jesuits found among the Guaraní in Paraguay offer eerie parallels to Catholic practice: the "devices for perfuming the place" are like the censer used in the Mass, and the Jesuits note the "hermitages" for lodging devotees. Typical of the thinking of the time, Antonio Ruiz de Montoya attributes such antithetical practices to the devil. He and the other Jesuits counter Guaraní religion by staging their own spectacle: the public display and destruction of the bones of the shaman.