The Codification of the Cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe

Written in Nahuatl

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569. [VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE]. CATHOLIC CHURCH. CATECHISM. PAREDES, Ignacio de. Promptuario manual mexicano. Que à la verdad podrá ser utilissimo à los Parrochos para la enseñanza; à los necessitados Indios para su instrucción; y à los que aprenden la lengua para la expedición. Contiene quarenta, y seis Platicas, con sus Exemplos, y morales exhortaciones, y seis Sermones morales, acomodados à los seis Domingos de la Quaresma. Todo lo qual corresponde à los cinquenta, y dos Domingos de todo el año; en que se suele explicar la Doctrina Christiana a los feligreses.... Añadese por fin un Sermon de Nuestra Santissima Guadalupana Señora, con una breve narracion de su historia; y dos indices; que se hallaràn al principio de la obra. La que con la claridad, y propriedad en el Idioma, que pudo, dispuso El P. Ignacio de Paredes de la Compañia de Jesus.... Mexico: En la Imprenta de la Bibliotheca Mexicana, 1759. [44], 1-380, i-xc pp. (text in Nahuatl; title, prefaces, dedication, and captions in Spanish), title within ornamental typographical border, copper-engraved frontispiece plate entitled below line border: S. Ignacio de Loyola, Fundador de la Compañía de Jesús (portrait of Saint Ignacio de Loyola in mythic style atop the orb of the world supported by two European royal personages and two Mexican Natives in traditional garb representing Asia, Europe, Africa, and America, while heavenly angels and saints keep watch from above), signed in image at lower right: Zapata. Sc. (neat line to neat line: 18 x 12.5 cm; overall sheet size: 19.5 x 14.5 cm); full page woodcut following title (coat of arms of dedicatee Félix Venancio Malo de Villavicencio, royal consul to Mexico at the time of writing), occasional wood-engraved ornamentation in text. 4to (19.2 x 14.1 cm), contemporary full Mexican tree sheep, spine with raised bands, spine gilt, sprinkled edges. Nineteenth-century ink inscription on front flyleaf stating that the book belonged to Father Tomás Martí (also signed by him on title), who was at Orizava from November 1810 until December 1824 and returned to his native country (probably Spain) in July of 1825 (indicating that this book was used in New Spain by a priest). Other than light stain and corner repair to upper cover, very good, interior fine, the plate in a good, dark impression.

     First edition, first issue. Andrade 4458. Beristáin de Souza, Biblioteca Hispano Americana Setentrional (1883), Vol. II, p. 397. Brasseur de Bourbourg, Bibl. Mex.-Guat., p. 118. JCB III (2, 1772-1800) #1231. Brunet IV, col. 364. García Icazbalceta, Apuntes 57. Garibay, Historia de la literatura Nahuatl, II, p. 164. Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana (1867) 1126; (1878) 2331. León Portilla, Tepuztlahcuilolli 2082. Mathes, Bibliotheca Novohispana Guadalupana, pp. 36 & 57. Medina, México 4568 (calling for clxxxviii pp. at end). Bulletin of the New York Public Library (1909), “List of Works relating to Mexico,” p. 819 (holds first and second issues). Palau 212739 (calling for only xc pages at end). Pilling 2892. Sabin 58575. Salvá 2373: “Este rarísimo tomo está todo él escrito en lengua mejicana, y es tal vez la obra más voluminosa que existe en dicha lengua.” Sommervogel, Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus VI:211-212. Ugarte 295. Viñaza 344. According to the author’s statement on page [44], he has collected more sermons and other materials, which he has translated into Nahuatl and that when sufficient means are available, these will be published. Apparently, that situation explains the fact that some copies are reported having pages xci to clxxxviii at end (cf. Medina and Ugarte). Clearly, however, the present copy is the first issue. According to page [42] of the table of contents, the last item in the book is Sermon 7, on the Virgin of Guadalupe, which begins on page lxxxiii, as is the case here.

     This work is much more than an interesting linguistic relic of Native Americans. Some conquests may be achieved with swords and arquebuses; others are won by the spoken and written word. The latter is the case with the present work. Despite massive cultural and biological miscegenation, printed works in Native American languages had a profound effect on reducing, homogenizing, and leveling Native societies to the ideas of their Spanish conquerers. “In a continent teeming with hundreds of mutually unintelligible languages, missionaries composed and printed grammars, syntaxes, vocabularies, and devotional literatures in Guarani, Nahuatl, and Quechua, expanding the reach and range of these precolonial languages and thus facilitating the creation of the ethnic category of Indian” (James Sidbury & Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, “Mapping Ethnogenesis in the Early Modern Atlantic” in The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 2, April 2011, p. 195, published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture). Among the leaders in the linguistic conversion of Natives was Mexican Jesuit priest Ignacio de Paredes (1703-ca. 1762?), who at the time of publication of this book was a great authority on Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. He was born in San Juan de Llanos in the diocese of Puebla. Paredes became involved with a Creole group of clergyman who exercised great influence during the Bourbon era. Among his accomplishments was his service as president of the College of San Gregorio, established for the education of Native Americans only.

     Paredes prepared this work for priests and missionaries to instruct Indians in their native language of Nahuatl. It is a general handbook of rule and canon law with sermons and moral speeches, mostly in Nahuatl and Spanish, with Latin throughout. The previous year Paredes published his translation of Ripalda’s Catecismo mexicano in Nahuatl (see herein). Forty-four pages of prefatory material in eighteenth century Spanish are followed by 380 pages of “pláticas,” or moral lectures, and ninety pages of sermons. The forty-six “pláticas” and six “sermones” make a total of fifty-two lessons, which are thematically organized, one for each week of the liturgical year.

     The seventh sermon is an important publication of the history of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Nahuatl. Though not the first such history in Nahuatl, it is somewhat early, the first printed account in Nahuatl being that of Luis Laso de la Vega in Huei tlamahuiçoltica omonexiti in ilhuicac tlatóca Çihuapilli Santa María Totlaçonantzin Guadalupe in nican huei altepenahuac Mexico itocayocan tepeyacac, published at Mexico in 1649 (said to be based on the original writings of Indian scholar Antonio Veleriano around the middle of the sixteenth century, a contention disputed by Beristáin de Souza, Biblioteca Hispano Americana Setentrional (1883), Vol. II, p. 146; see Medina, México 685). The first printed account of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Spanish was that of Miguel Sánchez, Imagen de la Virgen María (Mexico 1648; Medina, México 678).

     In Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe rose far above the status and popularity of other saints beginning after the news of her apparition to a Native in 1531 at Tepeyac, only a decade after the fall of the Aztec capital at Tenochtitlan to Spanish conquistador Cortés. It has been said that “Mexico was born at Tepeyac,” and indeed, the syncretic Virgin of Guadalupe combines “the Indian past to make something new, a proto-Mexican Indian madonna who will gradually be accepted as well by American Spaniards and mestizos as their own, thus forming the spiritual basis of a national independence movement in the early nineteenth century” (William B. Taylor, “The Virgin of Guadalupe in New Spain: An Inquiry into the Social History of Marian Devotion” in American Ethnologist, Vol. 14, No. 1, February 1987, pp. 9-10).

     On April 24, 1754, Pope Benedict XIV declared that the Virgin of Guadalupe was the Patron Saint of New Spain, followed in 1757 by a printed historical account of the indulgences granted over the years to the Cofradía de Nuestra Señora la Virgen María de Guadalupe and her church in Mexico. “The celebrations of 1756 appear to have been pivotal events in the promotion of the cult of Guadalupe by church leaders in New Spain. Certainly peninsular prelates and native-born curates were promoting devotion to the Mexican Guadalupe with a new intensity in the late 1750s and 1760s. The Promptuario manual mexicano [1759], a book of sermons and lectures for the use of curates includes a sermon on Our Lady of Guadalupe and a short history of the apparition suitable for presentation to Indian neophytes ‘so that this [history] may be known to all the Indians, who are especially favored by the same lady’“ (p. 14, from William B. Taylor’s article preceding).

     “The best guide to the whole range of Nahuatl-language imprints is to be found in the prologue to the greatest single work in Nahuatl of the second half of the colonial period, the Promptuario manual mexicano (1759) of the Jesuit Father Ignacio de Paredes. He rates all previous work in the language by stating that he intended to use the most pure, appropriate, and genuine words that the most eminent and classical authors used” (Barry Sell, “Nahuatl Imprints in the Huntington Collections” in Huntington Library Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 3, Summer, 1991, pp. 256-262).

     The classic copper-engraved plate of the founder of the Jesuit Order also appeared in Horace Carochi’s, Compendio del arte de la lengua mexicana, published the same year in Mexico. Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores en la Nueva España, pp. 558-559 (engraving at p. 558). Mathes (La Ilustración en México colonial) discusses engraver Salvador Zapata.


Sold. Hammer: $1,500.00; Price Realized: $1,837.50.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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