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El Santo Niño Jesús
Photographs from the
Mary Ann Smothers Bruni Collection
" El Santo Niño Jesús , the blessed Baby
Jesus, he's why we work day after day, year after year, sewing
our costumes, rehearsing our lines, performing on cold, rainy
days. Ask young people today "What is Christmas all about?" and
all too often they will answer "Santa Claus, presents,
turkey." Los Pastores teaches them that Christmas is the
birthday of the Santo Niño Jesús , the blessed
Baby Jesus. Because of Him, we celebrate Christmas.
In 1960 a stroke paralyzed me from the chest down. The doctors
could do nothing. I prayed to the Baby Jesus. I promised that
if He would save me, I would carry Him to the manger on my
knees at every performance of Los Pastores ."
--Victor David Elizondo, member and director of the Guadalupe
Players, 1945-1996, quoted in Los Pastores by Mary
Ann Smothers Bruni, 1990.
With these and similar words, Victor David Elizondo, who performed
in Los Pastores for fifty years, introduced the folk
drama during his reign as director. The shepherds then entered
singing and formed two lines between the infierno at
one end of the staging area, and the nacimiento at
the other. The nacimiento , the nativity scene, is
provided by the hosts for each performance, and may be as simple
as two or three pottery animals on a table in someone's backyard
or as elaborate as a full size stable in front of the façade
of Mission San José. After Mary and Joseph walked to
the nacimiento speaking a prose dialogue, Elizondo
would drop to his knees and carry his precious plaster Santo
Niño Jesús to Mary to place Him in the manger.
None of this preliminary adoration ritual of the Santo
Niño Jesús is in don Leandro's original
When ill-health prevented Elizondo from fulfilling his vow,
Dominga Cuella continued the tradition of carrying the Niño
Jesus on knees to the nacimiento . In 1996 Gilbert
Perez replaced Elizondo as director.
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