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History
Introduction
Shepherds
Devils
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History

Photographs from the Mary Ann Smothers Bruni Collection

Conflict
Madrinas
Adoration
Players
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“But by the grace of God I began to know and understand their manner and…how to speak to them…because in their ancient worship of their gods they sang and danced before them.

--Fray Pedro e Gante, Letter to Phillip II, 1528.

The pastorelas , or Mexican shepherds plays, were born in early Sixteenth Century Mexico when Spanish Franciscans, heirs to a rich legacy of religious drama, met Mesoamerican Indians, who also celebrated their religious mysteries in drama and dance. The priests introduced the stories, but it was the people and their enthusiasm that nourished the drama and carried it from the churchyards to the public squares and eventually, as the folk traveled with the Franciscans, across the far reaches of Spain's American empire—to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado.

Located on one of the major Franciscan routes, San Antonio, Texas, has enjoyed many pastorelas . The first documented shepherds play there was recorded and photographed in 1893 by Captain John Bourke, president of the American Folklore Society. In 1907 the Society published M.R. Cole's Los Pastores: A Mexican Play of the Nativity , which presented the pastorela as produced in South Texas at that time.

Leandro Granados brought San Antonio's Los Pastores to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church from his beloved Mexico around 1910. Don Leandro, who had performed in pastorelas in Mexico, inscribed his text in an old ledger. Father Carmelo Tranchese of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church edited and translated the text, and it was published in 1949 by Treviño Brothers Printing and Lithograph as Los Pastores: A Christmas Drama of Old Mexico . A copy of this published text is available at the Benson Collection

 

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Last updated: June 10, 2005.
Created by: Craig Schroer - Electronic Services Librarian
Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin
Please send comments to: schroer@mail.utexas.edu

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