Account of the Virgin of Guadalupe by Archbishop Lorenzana

Edict Requiring that Indigenous Peoples Learn Castilian Spanish

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568. [VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE]. CATHOLIC CHURCH. ARCHDIOCESE OF MEXICO CITY. ARCHBISHOP (1766-1782). LORENZANA Y BUITRÓN, Francisco Antonio. Cartas pastorales, y edictos del Illmo. Señor D. Francisco Antonio Lorenzana, y Buitron, Arzobispo de México. Mexico: Impresas con licencia en México, en la Imprenta del Superior Govierno, del Br. D. Joseph Antonio de Hogal, Calle de Tiburcio, Año 1770. [26], 1-229 [1, blank] pp. (later part of text in Latin or Latin and Spanish), title printed in red and black, initials. Folio (28 x 19.5 cm), contemporary vellum over boards, original dark red morocco spine label (deteriorated), contemporary vellum label at top (with shelf mark), modern label at foot of spine, edges red. Some soiling to vellum, upper hinge cracked, lower hinge barely starting, interior very fine. Small printed cancel pasted on p. 217. Rare in commerce.

     First edition of an important religious work which reveals a great deal on Native Americans and social history. JCB III (1, 1700-1771) #1749. Medina, México 5379. Palau 142406. Rich I, p. 183 (#29). Sabin 42062 (quoting Stevens): “Among other things, this volume contains a most minute account of the portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which appeared miraculously on the Tilma or blanket of Juan Diego, a converted Mexican, in the year 1531; and which was solemnly declared by a commission of painters and others, in 1751, not to have been painted by the hand of man. The good Archbishop comes to the conclusion that it must have been painted by millions of angels.”(This was before Albert H. Lyter III, Federal Forensic Associates, Inc. came on the scene.) Near the end (pp. 195-216) is the Archbishop’s detailed account and confirmation of the miraculous appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Lorenzana actively promoted veneration of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the unifying spiritual symbol of the Mexican people.

     Lorenzana covers the following subjects in his pastoral letters: Letter I: policies on obligations of the clergy (proper use of church bells; administration of confirmations; prohibition of collecting alms inside the church; observing fasting; proper explanation of Christian doctrine);Letter II: doctrine to be taught and practiced (academies to be established on teaching doctrine; emphasis on Immaculate Conception; pastors to annually submit parishioner registers; prayers for freedom from earthquakes;fascinating rules for keeping Indios happy spiritually and temporally, involving, among other things,very specific sleeping arrangements of the sexes in the domicile and not allowing their children ever to marry Spaniards or those of mixed blood; rules for festivals); Letter III: banishment of false doctrines and fanaticism, such as flagellation and penitentes, of some religious cloisters; banishment of idolatry, superstition, and abuse of Indios; ban on the sale of food in sacred places; Letter IV: promotion of sound doctrine, including prohibition of Jesuits and certain authors; Letter V: Indios must learn Castilian Spanish; Letter VI: call and commands to preserve religious life (payment of taxes and tributes; statutes regarding orphanages; extension of Castilian throughout the realm). Edicts and memorials at the end include establishment of guilds for the impoverished, promotion of manufactures, agriculture, textiles, the arts, etc.

     Walter Mignolo, The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization (University of Michigan Press, 2003), pp. 59-64:

In [Archbishop Francisco Antonio Lorenzana’s] classic Cartas pastorales y edictos we still hear Aldrete’s complaint of the Spanish failure to teach Castilian to the Amerindians. The title of “Pastoral V” is, appropriately, “Para que los Indios aprendan el Castellano,” and in the first sentence Lorenzana claims that after more than two centuries the situation in this respect is pretty much the same as it was for Cortés, in need of “interpreters of the languages.” He points out the difficulties presented by what he perceives as a multiplication of Amerindian languages in the area of Mexico, Puebla, and Oaxaca. All of this is happening, observes Lorenzana with dismay, despite the numerous laws and decrees formulated by the Crown mandating that the Castilian language be taught to the Amerindian. His dismay is complemented by historical reasoning very similar to that expressed by Aldrete 150 years before in Seville: [In translation] “There has never been a Cultured Nation in the World, that when it extended its Conquests, did not attempt the same with its language.”

...Contrary to the high esteem in which the early Mendicant friars and Jesuits held Amerindian languages, Lorenzana returns to an early sixteenth-century European philosophy, in which Latin, Greek, and Hebrew are the three superior languages, to which Nahuatl could not be compared... Opinions such as these sound outrageous to a sensitive reader—although they belong to the past—or to a reader suspicious of the way Spaniards conducted their business in the Indies. But Lorenzana’s statements are not buried in the past. The situation repeated itself under the English, French, and German expansions in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and it is still alive today among certain sectors of the population, who consider Amerindian languages inferior to Castilian, French, or English and cannot understand why Amerindians resist the benefits of culture and civilization.

     Anthony Tudisco, “America in Some Travelers, Historians, and Political Economists of the Spanish Eighteenth Century” in The Americas, Vol. 15, No. 1 (July 1958), p. 11:

Mexico, the seat of one of the oldest and richest viceroyalties, had most always been fortunate in having enlightened men as heads of the Church. Archbishop Francisco Antonio Lorenzana continued this tradition in the eighteenth century... His Cartas pastorals are a program of action and an exhortation to the parish priests to dedicate themselves completely to the care of their Indian flocks.... We must confess, he says, that the Indians have a soul as noble as that of the Europeans and like them are created in the image and likeness of God and disposed to be led to salvation.... The principal obstacle to political, economic, social, and religious progress among the Indians, according to Lorenzana, was one of language, and must be solved through education.

The book is another first-rate imprint from the notable Mexican colonial press of Hogal. For other works by Lorenzana, see herein.


Sold. Hammer: $1,200.00; Price Realized: $1,470.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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