The Immaculate Deception

The colonialist roots of la Virgen de Guadalupe

Kurly Tlapoyawa

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When Spanish forces under the command of Hernando Cortes first set foot on the eastern coast of Mexico on April 22, 1519, they christened the site of their landing Veracruz, “the true cross” (Cortes et al. 2001:4). Within five years of Cortes’ arrival, a group of Franciscan missionaries arrived in Mexico, tasked with converting the previously unknown indigenous people to Christianity. These missionaries brought with them a worldview forged in the apocalyptic and millenarian ideas that had become characteristic of Spanish Franciscanism.

Driving this project of missionization was what J. L. Phelan described as “the millennial kingdom of the Franciscans in the New World” (Phelan 1970). In this essay, I explore the millennialist roots of these early Franciscan missionaries and argue that their apocalyptic beliefs not only influenced the emergent Mexican identity but directly resulted in what is easily Mexico’s most recognizable national symbol: the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The Legacy of Joachim of Fiore

“The beginning of the last preaching of the gospel on the eve of the end of the world.”

The millennialist worldview held by Franciscan missionaries to the New World were…

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Kurly Tlapoyawa

(Chicano/Nawa/Mazewalli) Archaeologist, filmmaker, and founder of the Chimalli institute of Mesoamerican Arts. Professor of C/S at Colegio Chicano del Pueblo.