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El Santo Niño Jesús

Photographs from the Mary Ann Smothers Bruni Collection

Click any of the images to view a larger representation.

" 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 script.

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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Go to Benson Collection Home Page Last updated: June 2, 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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