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Historiography of the Apparition of Guadalupe

Daniel J. Castellano (2010-11)

Part IV

Guadalupe according to P. Francisco de Florencia
Testimony of D. Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora
Sigüenza's Lost Manuscripts

Guadalupe according to P. Francisco de Florencia

Prologue
Apparition Narrative
Fernando de Alva's Translation
Another Nahuatl Manuscript?
Later Miracles of Guadalupe
Observations of the Image

In 1688, the Jesuit father Francisco de Florencia would publish a large volume giving a comprehensive history of the miraculous image Our Lady of Guadalupe, titled La estrella del norte de México (The north star of Mexico). This work is of interest to us not merely for its version of the apparition narrative, but more especially because of its allusion to the mysterious manuscripts of Fernando de Alva, previously mentioned by Becerra Tanco. Florencia offers us some detail about the content and character of this early source material, which may help us elucidate the historiography of Guadalupe if we handle the evidence carefully.

Prologue

In his prologue, Padre Florencia argues against a Spanish preacher who claimed, among other things, that Spain was more greatly honored than Mexico by the miraculous image, since it was made with Castilian roses, much as the Catholic faith in Mexico was the gift of Spain. P. Florencia quotes Chapter V of his own apparition narrative, which is to follow, where the Blessed Virgin says to Juan Diego: Que en el cerro hallaría diversas flores (That on the hill he would find various flowers). The author says that in the original Mexican, the term used is mochi xochitl, which means "many flowers," without indicating whether they are from Castile or any other land. This is a clear indication that Florencia's apparition narrative is at least in part derived from a Nahuatl source, which is remarkable since this scholarly priest was not proficient in that language. Confirming our supposition, Florencia says immediately afterward:

Es verdad que de aquella antigua relación que cito algunas veces en la mía, parece que sacó el Lic. Miguel Sánchez, "que entre las varias flores de singulares olores y colores, había rosas de Alejandría," que son las que llamamos de Castilla...

It is true that from that ancient relation that I cite several times in my [relation], it seems that Lic. Miguel Sánchez extracted: "that among the various flowers of singular smells and colors, there were rose of Alexandria," which are those that we call Castilian...

Florencia explicitly claims that his apparition narrative includes citations from an "ancient relation," and he further speculates that P. Sánchez's account might also have been based on this same source. Neither Sánchez nor Florencia were fluent in Nahuatl, so this indigenous written source must have already been translated into Spanish. What is this source? It cannot have been the Nican mopohua, at least not Lasso de la Vega's version of it. For the passage in question, the Nican mopohua reads: “Oncan tiquittaz onoc nepapan xochitl” (“There you will see that there are different kinds of flowers”). It does not say mochi xochitl, like Florencia's source.

Apparition Narrative

P. Florencia's apparition narrative, which covers the first seven chapters of his book, is in substantial agreement with the facts related by P. Sánchez, though his specific wording differs markedly in many places. P. Florencia did not know Nahuatl, yet his narrative makes several allusions to Nahuatl terms, again suggesting a dependence on a text of indigenous derivation. Florencia makes extended citations in italics, relying on a source that differs from the Nican mopohua in wording, though often matching it in facts detail for detail, as in the physical description of first apparition. In some places, Florencia’s source is more extensive, as in the account of Juan Diego’s first meeting with the bishop:

Que era verdad, que lo avia recibido humano, que lo avia oydo con paciencia, y hechole diversas preguntas, y repreguntas sobere el mensaje: pero del modo remitirlo, para quando huviesse mas lugar, y espacio de examinarlo, y saber mas de raiz la verdad del caso, y de la tibieza, que en sus palabras mostró al despedirlo; colegia, que no se avia satisfecho de su embajada, ni dado entero credito a sus palabras; juzgando à caso, que su propuesta era imaginacion, o sueño suyo, y no mensaje de Ella; que por tanto, le rogaba se dignase de encargar aquel negocio a otra persona de mas suposicion, y de mas luster à quien el Obispo diesse mas credito: que èl no era para ello. (III,18, fol. 7v)

In the Nican mopohua, by contrast, no mention is made of extensive questioning, nor is there much discussion of the bishop’s motives or beliefs, save to note that he was doubtful. Florencia’s source expands on the narrative in the Nican mopohua, but paraphrases the dialogue of Juan Diego to the Blessed Virgin, while omitting the bishop’s dialogue altogether. The Blessed Virgin’s reply only partially matches that of the Nican mopohua:

Agradesco, Juan, tu cuydado, y obediencia: pero sabe, que, aunque tengo muchos, a quien mandarlo, pero conviene, que tu, y no otro lo solicites, y effetues: y esta es mi voluntad; en cuya conformidad te ordeno, que mañana vuelvas al Obispo, y le digas como por segunda vez, te he mandado, le lleves el mismo recaudo de mi parte. Vè, y haz lo que te mando, que Yo te gratificarè esta diligencia. (III,19, fol. 7v) [Emphasis added]

Only the boldface text has an analogue in the Nican mopohua. At this point, it seems that one source is a paraphrased version of the other. Florencia proceeds to describe the second meeting with the bishop in his own paraphrase, matching the Nican mopohua in the detail that the bishop now specifies that Juan Diego’s own word will not suffice. After relating how the Indian eluded the bishop’s servants, Florencia cites his source giving an extensive monologue that is altogether absent from the Nican mopohua, which uses a brief paraphrase.

Fui, Señora, como me mandaste, à ver Segunda vez al Obispo: propusele, como tu me embiabas repetidamente, a pedirle Templo en este lugar; no obstante averte propuesto mi indignidad, y que embiajes a otra persona, à quien diese credito, con lo demas, que entonzes me dixistes; y esto con sentimiento, y con lagrimas de mis ojos. Pero el con severidad, y mesura, me respondio: que si queria yo, que por solo el dicho de un Indio de tan poca authoridad, se moviese un Obispo à una cosa de tan peso, y a una obra tan publica? Examinóme, en todo quanto yo dezia de tu persona, y de lo que de ti avia oido y entendido. (IV,25 fol. 10r)

Y yo aunque con rudeza, y toscas palabras, le di razon de tu talle, y persona: de tus palabras, y dulzura en el hablar: y, à lo que creo, no sin efecto, porque entre dudoso, y persuadido, se resolviò, en que me creerà, si tu quieres embiarle con migo alguna señal cierta, de que eres MARIA Virgen, y Madre de Dios, y de que tu eres quien me embias, y quien pides el Templo en este sitio; y que no es embeleco, o imaginacion mia. Yo le prometi de pedirtela. Vengo pues a dezirte su resolucion, para que à tu voluntad determines, lo que tengo de hazer en el empeño, en que estoy puesto. (IV,26 fol. 10r)

If Florencia’s source were nothing more than a paraphrase of the Nican mopohua, we would have to regard this passage as an invention of whole cloth, needlessly expanding the narrative for little substantive gain, whereas elsewhere this same author has abbreviated the narrative of the Nican mopohua. A more plausible solution is that this source and Lasso de la Vega’s Nican mopohua might draw on a common source, with the document cited by Florencia paraphrasing some parts while Lasso de la Vega (or his source) paraphrased others, such as this repetitive discourse that adds little to the narrative.

At the conclusion of his apparition narrative, Florencia makes some comments to support the truth of his narration. The first is that what he has related "is the substance of the apparitions of the Lady, following the licenciado Miguel Sánchez, who was the first who brought it to light in print". Florencia then names other ecclesiastical authors who followed Sánchez. He mentions all this because those who read the 1666 testimony of Luis Becerra Tanco should not find it strange that the latter differs from all these other authors, for the difference is only in wording, not in substance. Florencia accounts for this difference by noting that Miguel Sánchez and those who followed him took the unwritten traditions handed down from fathers to sons, which vary in words, some versions more concise than others. Becerra Tanco's account, published first in 1666 and again in 1672 (sic), followed the histories of the Indians, as that author attests. The Indians exhibited greater curiosity than the Spanish, since "they wrote with formal words the reasonings of the Lady to Juan Diego, and from Juan Diego to the Lady." He further notes that Becerra Tanco claimed that he faithfully translated the Mexican words, and that to detract from them is to detract from the historical truth.

Florencia says that the abovementioned authors (i.e., Sánchez and those who followed him) did well not to render literally the Nahuatl words, for these, when translated into Spanish, would seem indecorous and indecent, such as the affectionate terms with which Juan Diego addresses Our Lady.

From these comments so far, it seems that Florencia places himself more in the vein of those who follow Sánchez than as a follower of Becerra Tanco. Florencia's narration is an original composition, which does not pretend to be a literal rendering of a Nahuatl source. Nonetheless, Florencia appears to be aware of the content of the Nahuatl original, though he is not fluent in that language, further suggesting that he had access to a Spanish translation of an indigenous account, a supposition that will later be verified explicitly. This does not mean that his narrative is a simple transcription of that account; on the contrary, his comments here suggest that he has taken literary license with the indigenous version of the history, varying the words while retaining the substance. P. Florencia further confirms what we have already suspected from examining earlier sources: that the indigenous histories of Guadalupe had a relatively fixed form for the elaborate dialogues. This helps account for the similarities and differences between Becerra Tanco's narrative and the Nican mopohua, discussed previously. Florencia, like Becerra Tanco, italicizes certain dialogue portions, suggesting that he is closely following an existing written tradition here.

Florencia also makes an odd claim that will be of later interest to us because of the response it would evoke from the illustrious scholar Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora. Regarding the location in which the holy image was revealed, Florencia says that "there is a tradition, that in the house of D. Juan de Castilla, which today are those of the Lord Counts of Santiago, and are the same in which lives the contador D. Antonio de Noroña." This news, Florencia says, was communicated to Luis Becerra Tanco by D. Fernando de Alva, who, as interpreter for the court of Indians, had extensive communication with D. Juan Álvarez, protector of the Indians in the Real Audiencia. Álvarez knew many Indians and Spaniards who lived during the miracle or were relatives and friends of those who had. From these people it was known that Bishop Zumárraga had lived on that site (the present house was built later). His receiving room was in that quarter that falls on the street named de los Donceles, and it is there that he probably received Juan Diego on all occasions, including the last when the image appeared. Florencia conjectures that Álvarez lived for so many years in that house not merely out of convenience, but out of devotion. For many years after his death, the house was known by the name of D. Juan de Álvarez rather than the subsequent owners. Becerra Tanco, Florencia claims, obtained the word of the second count named D. Fernando Altamirano (and third of that title), that he would allow the building of a chapel in that room to commemorate the miraculous occasion. Becerra Tanco's death put an end to this endeavor, but Florencia prays that someone else takes up the task, even if it is built for the domestic servants.

Fernando de Alva's Translation

In Chapter XIII of his work (folio 75v), Florencia recounts evidence in support of the tradition, beginning with the testimony of Becerra Tanco and other witnesses in the Informaciones of 1666. In section VIII of this chapter, Florencia makes the astonishing claim that he received in his hands a relation of the miraculous apparition, which to his eyes seemed to be over a hundred years old. The title of this work was Relación de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, la cual se trasladó de unos papeles muy antiguos que tenía un indio, con otros curiosos (Relation of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was translated from some very ancient papers that an Indian had, with other curiosities). Florencia says this translated work is written in the letter of D. Fernando de Alva (c. 1570-1648), and was found among many other papers in the library of D. Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora, the most accomplished scholar in America of the late seventeenth century. The age of the document is shown by the fading of the paper and of the ink, so that the translation was made about seventy or eighty years ago (1610-1620). If the translation is that old, Florencia remarks, how old are "the very ancient papers" from which it was copied?

This appears to be the mysterious document of Fernando de Alva that was mentioned by Becerra Tanco, feared to be lost, and now Florencia does us the great service of giving us some indications of its content. Even before going any further, it is clear that the skeptical view that the traditional Guadalupe narrative was constructed by Sánchez and Lasso de la Vega cannot be sustained, as Florencia has personally handled a much older text, written in the 1610s by a man who died in 1648. Florencia, as a historical scholar familiar with ancient texts, was eminently competent to make such a judgment of age, and we will later see that Sigüenza y Góngora, a friend of the deceased author and an eminent scholar in his own right, confirmed this judgment.

The original Nahuatl manuscript gives the date of the first apparition as Saturday, December 8th, when it should be the 9th, as Fernando de Alva notes in the margin of his translation. Florencia suggests that this apparent error is a result of the Gregorian reform of leap years (bisiestos) not having occurred yet, which would alter the dominical letter for each year. Thus, according to Florencia, this seeming error is actually evidence of the great antiquity of the manuscript, which must have been written before the Gregorian reform.

I find this argument to be unconvincing. Someone writing before the Gregorian reform would just use the standard Julian calendar system of dominical letters, and correctly determine that the 9th of December in 1531 was a Saturday. The dominical letter for the year 1531 is A, since January 1 of that year was a Sunday. It was not a leap year, so one simply labels the days of that year with repeating letters A through G. The dominical letter is A, so all the A's are Sundays. December 9 in a non-leap year is G, so it must have been a Saturday. If the Nahuatl manuscript was in fact written before the Gregorian reform, the author simply made an error in his computation when determining that the 8th of December was a Saturday. Likely, the older tradition had only told that the first apparition was on a Saturday in early December, and the dates were calculated retroactively by our mysterious Nahuatl author.

Ordinarily, the dominical letters for successive years progress in the order: A G F E D C B, advancing two letters during leap years. The Gregorian reform suppressed 10 days in 1582, thereby altering the dominical letters for years going forward. 1581 had a dominical letter of A, so 1582 had a dominical letter of G prior to the suppression of 10 days. However, due to the suppression, the year 1583 would not have the expected dominical letter F, but it would be as if the year 1582 had ended on December 21, a Friday. Accordingly, 1583 began on a Saturday, and had a dominical letter of B (i.e., all the 'B' days of that year were Sundays) instead of F. This effectively advanced the dominical letter sequence by four (from F to B). If someone writing after 1582 were to naïvely follow the dominical sequence backwards without taking into account the effect of the ten-day suppression, they would mistakenly designate 1531 as a D year instead of an A year. In a D year, December 8 is a Tuesday and December 9 is a Wednesday, so the Gregorian reform cannot account for the manuscript's error.

Although we cannot date the manuscript on the basis of the calendar error, Florencia offers another piece of evidence for its antiquity, making a direct quotation from Alva's translation:

Era viudo: porque dos años antes, que Dios, y su Santissima Madre le escogiesen para obra tan singular, havia muerto su Muger, que se llamaba Maria Lucia. No tuvo hijo ninguno, porque segun supe por muchas pesquizas, y diligencias, siempre guardo castidad el, y su Muger, etc.

He was a widower: because two years earlier, that God, and His Most Holy Mother should select him for such a singular work, his wife, who was named Maria Lucia, had died. He did not have any son, because as was known through many inquiries and diligences, he and his wife always maintained chastity... (XIII, viii, 161, fol. 76r)

Florencia infers from this statement that the author must have been a contemporary of those who knew Juan Diego and his wife personally. Pezquizas ("inquiries; investigations"), he says, properly refers to personal questioning about things that are known in secret or hidden. The only ones who could have known about the chastity of Juan Diego and his wife were their relatives or intimate friends who lived among them. Such persons would have also certainly known about the miracle from the mouth of Juan Diego himself.

The rash inferences made by Florencia do not end there. He also speculates parenthetically that Miguel Sánchez and "Luis de Bezerra" drew their narratives from this manuscript, though perhaps he meant only indirectly in the case of Sánchez. More strikingly, he deduces that the author must have been of the Franciscan order, offering several quotations from Alva's translation in support of this hypothesis. The first, regarding the procession during the transfer of the holy image to its shrine, reads:

Iban por retaguardia los muy exemplares, y Seraphicos Padres de nuestro glorioso Seraphico Francisco, llevando todos revestidos en ombros à la Soberana Imagen de MARIA de Guadalupe.

The narrator describes a rearguard of "the Seraphic Fathers of our glorious Seraphic Francis," perhaps suggesting that the writer himself is a Franciscan. This impression is corroborated by another quotation:

Siempre guardò castidad èl y su Muger, à persuasion de la alabanza della, q en cierta platica oyeron de un Santo Religioso de nuestra Orden de S. Francisco llamado Fr. Toribio Motolinia.

Fray Toribio Motolinia is here described as "a Holy Religious of our Order of St. Francis". The reference to "our Order" seems to suggest that the writer is a member of the Franciscan Order. Lastly, regarding Bishop Zumárraga, the manuscript says: Era del Orden de N.P.S. Francisco, that is, "He was of the Order of Our Holy Father Francis."

Florencia's inference from these texts that the author must be a Franciscan is unjustified. As D.A. Brading points out in his book Mexican Phoenix, P. Miguel Sánchez also speaks of "our St. Francis" (nuestro padre San Francisco) in his apparition narrative, though Sánchez was not a Franciscan. Brading, somewhat inconsistently, uses this similarity to argue that Florencia's source was based on Sánchez's narrative, though he elsewhere acknowledges that Florencia really did possess a manuscript that was seventy to a hundred years old in 1688.

I have found that Sánchez does speak of several saints as "our father," but unlike Florencia's manuscript, he never says "our Order". Aside from the aforementioned reference to St. Francis in his narrative of the first apparition, Sánchez also mentions "San Agustín nuestro padre" (fourth apparition, p. 188 in Documentos Historicos Guadalupanos, eds. Ernesto de la Torre Villar and Ramiro Navarro de Anda), "nuestro padre San Pedro" (p. 215), and "la orden de nuestro P. San Agustín" (p. 227). Sánchez was not an Augustinian, but he had a deep personal devotion toward St. Augustine and so spoke of him as "our father". The same reverence accounts for his manner of mentioning St. Peter and St. Francis.

A similar devotion would account for a sixteenth-century indigenous author speaking of "our Order of St. Francis". The Indians in early colonial Mexico were deeply devoted to the Franciscan friars, who showed exemplary compassion for the native peoples, and were their protectors against many abuses. Whenever the Spanish proposed replacing the Franciscans with another order or with secular priests, the Indian villages would often rise up in protest, as they did not want their Franciscans taken from them. In some cases, the Indians even paid with their lives for this disobedience, so devoted were they to having only Franciscans minister to them. In this context, it should not be surprising that an indigenous author of the sixteenth century, especially one educated in the Franciscan school at Tlatelolco, should fondly speak of "our Order of St. Francis".

Florencia goes further than merely determining the religious order of the author; he even presumes to have identified the specific individual. He claims that, according to Fray Agustin de Betancurt, the author was Fr. Gerónimo de Mendieta, who came to New Spain in 1554 and died in 1604. This assertion, as we shall see later, would be soundly refuted by Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora, who would identify D. Antonio Valeriano as the author.

In the ninth section of the thirteenth chapter, Florencia points out some peculiarities in the old manuscript's narrative that are not to be found in other versions of the story of Guadalupe. These unique details establish that Florencia's ancient source was indeed distinct from the published narratives of Sánchez, Lasso de la Vega, and Becerra Tanco.

The first unusual detail is that Juan Diego, because of his visit to the house of the archbishop, was late to church for catechism and the Mass of the Virgin (i.e., Saturday Mass). The penance for tardiness was several lashes on the back. Juan Diego, out of humility, submitted to this penalty, though he could have excused himself had he revealed that the Most Holy Virgin commanded him to see the archbishop first.

Florencia's "ancient relation," though it may date to the sixteenth century, contains some anachronisms. The first is referring to Zumárraga as archbishop, though he did not obtain this title until shortly before his death. It is possible that the author knew this, but simply chose to refer to Zumárraga by his highest title. Alternatively, 'arzobispo' may be an imprecise translation made by Fernando de Alva from the Nahuatl. Strictly speaking, we do not know if this term appeared in Florencia's source, since he does not give a direct quotation. More unequivocal, however, is the anachronism of Juan Diego being punished with the lash in 1531. In those early years, when the Indians were still strong in number, the Franciscans did not dare prescribe such harsh penalties. It is also doubtful that Juan Diego could have been taught much doctrine beyond the Our Father, since the Franciscans at that time had learned very little of the indigenous tongue.

The second peculiarity noted by Florencia is that Juan Diego responded to the Bishop's request for a sign with sure confidence, quoting directly: Que pidiese qualquiera señal; que iria, y la pediria, para que viese ser verdad, lo que demandaba ("That he may ask for whatever sign; that he would go and ask for it, so that he may see it to be true, what she demanded"). This detail is not unique to Florencia's source; it is also found in Lasso de la Vega's narrative, though it is given in the first person. Florencia, who did not know Nahuatl, would be unfamiliar with this source. Still, even Becerra Tanco's narrative in Spanish, with different wording, mentions Juan Diego asking the bishop to request any sign he wishes.

The third peculiarity in the ancient narrative is that when Juan Diego changed his path to avoid the Virgin in order to seek a confessor for his uncle, going to the east of the hill rather than to the west, he found her in the same path, at the site where there is now a fount whose water cures many illnesses. It was from that spot that she sent Juan Diego to fetch the flowers, while she waited for him there. It is on that site where the first shrine was built, and now there is the small church. Assuming Florencia is paraphrasing his source closely, this narrative would have been written in the last half of the sixteenth century, after the shrine was replaced by a small church, yet before the fount or spring was covered. Again, this detail is not unique to Florencia's source, but it is also mentioned by Lasso de la Vega and Becerra Tanco. Further, we find a likely anachronism in the supposition that Juan Diego sought a priest to act as confessor for his uncle. The early Franciscans were quite limited in their authority to administer sacraments, and at any rate would not have been proficient enough in Nahuatl to hear confessions. If Juan Diego did seek a priest for his uncle, it more likely would have been to secure a blessing or perhaps even a cure.

The fourth peculiarity is in fact particular to Florencia's source, and it pertains to the types of flowers that appeared on top of the hill. The exact quotations provided by Florencia are below:

Que havia cortado del sitio, que le ordenó, todas las flores, que en el havia... candidas azuzenas, hermosos lirios, rosas Alexandrinas, purpureos claveles; retamas, jazmines...

That he had cut from the site, to which she ordered him, all the flowers that were there... white lilies, beautiful irises, Alexandrine roses, purple carnations; retamas, jasmines..

Rosas Alexandrinas, Florencia notes, are also known as Castilian roses (rosas de Castilla). We have noted that the Nican mopohua mentions only that there were many varieties, "like those of Castile" (Caxtillan). Becerra Tanco likewise only mentions Castilian roses, without even hinting that there were other varieties. Sánchez, on the other hand, gives names of numerous varieties: rosas con su hermosura, tributando las azucenas leche, los claveles sangre, las violetas celo, los jazmines ámbar, el romero esperanzas, el lirio amor y la retama cautiverio. Florencia's source mentions only some of these, and in a different order, with different, though compatible, color terms. Overall, the ancient manuscript most closely resembles Sánchez's narrative here, a fact that D.A. Brading exploits to suggest a dependence on Sánchez, yet elsewhere we have seen this manuscript more closely resembles the accounts of Lasso de la Vega and Becerra Tanco. Given the age of the manuscript, which even Brading admits, it is more likely that all of the first three published accounts (Sánchez, Lasso de la Vega, Becerra Tanco) drew upon oral or written traditions with similar content to that of Florencia's ancient source.

The fifth distinctive point noted by Florencia is that the image was carried to its shrine on the shoulders of the Franciscans, led by the bare-footed Zumárraga. Of the three earlier published accounts, only that of Sánchez describes the procession in detail, but he does not mention these facts found in Florencia's source.

The sixth unique feature of the ancient narrative, according to Florencia, is the devotion, frequency, and care that the peoples of all races had toward the Holy Image, her shrine, and the miracles she worked. He says there are eleven miraculous favors recorded. Among these was the resurrection of an Indian who was killed by a stray arrow during a Naumachia (re-enactment of a naval battle). The relation adds that this Indian served the Blessed Virgin in her shrine for the rest of his life, a detail that is not mentioned in any other paper, according to Florencia, though in fact it is mentioned in the Nican moctepana published by Lasso de la Vega. Another miracle mentioned is that Juan de Tovar, the Indian who saw Our Lady of Los Remedios, was cured of several illnesses, including blindness, when placed before the Holy Image of Guadalupe. Neither Sánchez nor Lasso de la Vega mention blindness as one of his ailments.

Lastly, Florencia describes the fourth of the eleven miracles, which is not found in Sánchez' writing. A hydropic Spanish woman had a swollen abdomen to the point of bursting, having suffered for ten months. No doctor or medicine could cure her, so she was brought to the shrine before the Holy Image. She was given water from the well of Our Lady to drink, and she fell asleep. Between twelve and one o'clock, an Indian who was sweeping the church saw a monstrous snake, nine spans long, under the sick woman. The Indian's shouts woke the lady, who was now cured of the tumor, which had been caused by the snake. They killed the snake with the Indian's broom, and both later testified to the miracle. After a novena of nine days, the woman left on her own feet. This miracle is recorded in Lasso de la Vega's Nican moctepana, as the eighth of fourteen stories. Florencia will discuss the remainder of the miracles in Chapters XIX-XXI.

In the tenth section of Chapter XIII, Florencia discusses some details about Juan Diego and Juan Bernardino that are found in his ancient source text. Juan Diego spent the remainder of his life, which lasted another seventeen years, serving in the shrine, where he swept, cleaned, prayed, and did penances. He also interceded on behalf of those who could not go to the Shrine, and won great mercies from Our Lady. It was said, as a matter of certainty, that when he was alone with the Image, those who spied on him heard him speak as if he was conversing with the Mother of God who was really present.

Juan Diego fasted and disciplined himself frequently. He wore a tight-fitting penitential iron shirt. He greatly preferred solitude, so much so, that when Juan Bernardino offered to serve with him in the shrine, Juan Diego urged against this. He said that the Virgin had commanded him to live alone in his service to her.

Juan Bernardino died on May 15, 1544, thirteen years after the apparition, during the cocolixtli epidemic that killed Indians by the thousands. He was eighty-six years old, and had been warned in a dream by Our Lady of Guadalupe that he would soon die, and that he should rejoice, because she would bring him to peace and salvation. He died in a spirit of great confidence and joy. His body was brought to Guadalupe, and he was buried in the old church, which is the chapel now preserved on the site where the Most Holy Virgin sent Juan Diego with the flowers to the archbishop. The latter was present at the burial.

According to Florencia's ancient manuscript, Juan Diego was both saddened by the death of his uncle and consoled by the good disposition in which he departed from this life. Our Lady had advised Juan Diego, through her Image, that his uncle, the bishop, and himself would enjoy the glory of her Son. This was accomplished in his uncle, and it would occur in the other two four years later. Juan Diego and the Archbishop died in the same month and year, 1548. Juan Diego was aged seventy-four. The story implies that Juan Diego's sense of loss from the death of the Pastor, who was like a spiritual father to him, hastened his own death. This was the will of the Mother of God, that they may together see the original of the copy that has been left in Mexico from the heavens.

These additional factual details about the later life of Juan Diego can all be found in Lasso de la Vega's narrative, which lacks only the discussion of the psychological dispositions of the Indian and his uncle at the time of their deaths. Lasso de la Vega, a bit more accurately, says Juan Diego's death in 1548 was sixteen rather than seventeen years after the apparition, which occurred in December 1531. Other than that, he matches Florencia's source fact for fact, except he also inserts the story of Juan Diego's chaste marriage. There is good reason to believe, then, that there is a close relationship between Florencia's manuscript and Lasso de la Vega's narrative.

From what little Florencia has shared of this ancient manuscript, we see there are some places where it resembles Sánchez's version, and other places where it resembles Lasso de la Vega's, with the latter being far more numerous, especially in the discussion of the later miracles. We should not confuse this ancient manuscript with the apparition narrative that Florencia presented at the beginning of his book. That narrative, as he says in Chapter XIV, was substantially based on Mateo de la Cruz's epitomized version of the Sánchez narrative, though we have seen indications that Florencia may have occasionally used other sources as well.

Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora would make some important corrections to Florencia's claims regarding the original authorship and provenance of Fernando de Alva's manuscript. We will discuss these corrections in due course. For now, we will continue with Florencia's work, as it contains additional claims about written sources in Alva's possession.

Another Nahuatl Manuscript?

In Chapter XV, Florencia discusses the various means by which the Indians preserved the story of Guadalupe, through songs, dances, pictographic maps and annals. This section closely follows Becerra Tanco's discussion of the matter, and indeed, Florencia would have been unqualified to give independent witness, since he was not proficient enough in Nahuatl to interpret such sources. Nonetheless, Florencia notes that he had at least seen such pictographic writings, in particular one that is in the library of the Colegio de San Pedro y San Pablo in Mexico City, which contains the history of the mexicanos (i.e., the Aztecs) from their arrival from unknown parts until the conquest. He adds that the explication of such a "map" (i.e., pictographic chart) would be helped by the testimony of D. Fernando de Alva. Florencia makes it sound as if Alva interpreted this extant annal, but we will see shortly that this is not the case.

Florencia recounts Becerra Tanco's testimony that he had seen an elaborate pictographic annal in the possession of D. Fernando de Alva, which depicted events after the conquest. Among these were the apparition of Our Lady to Juan Diego, and of her blessed image in the palace of the bishop. Florencia subsequently admits, however, that this document was not found among the many antiquities possessed by D. Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora, who inherited Alva's papers. He nonetheless believes the document's existence is sufficiently established by Becerra Tanco's testimony.

Another document, heretofore unmentioned, is a canticle composed by D. Francisco Plácido of Azcapotzalco, which was sung the day the Holy Image was transferred to its shrine. For this testimony, Florencia says he is indebted to the diligence of...

...D. Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora, que hallándolo entre escritos de un D. Domingo de S. Antón Muñón Chimalpain, lo guardaba como un tesoro, y para ilustrar esta Historia me lo dió, como otras muchas cosas que he dicho y se dirán, para insertarlo en ella.

...D. Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora, who finding it among the writings of a D. Domingo de S. Antón Muñón Chimalpain, guarded it like a treasure, and he gave it to me to illustrate this History, as with many other things that I have said and will be said, to insert it into [the History].

Notwithstanding this intention and the great care that Sigüenza took to acquire and preserve this document, Florencia did not include the song in his published work, so its content remains a mystery. There is a sixteenth century song called the Teponazcuicatl, which some scholars have identified with the one to which Florencia alludes, but this is a matter of controversy we will examine later. "Domingo de S. Antón Muñón Chimalpain" was a famous indigenous historian, whose full name was Francisco de San Antón Muñón Chimalpahin Cuauhtlehuanitzin (1579-1660). Chimalpahin wrote a brief reference to the apparition of Guadalupe in his annals covering the period from 1258 to 1612, yet he dates it in 1556 rather than 1531, as we shall discuss later.

We must keep in mind that it is in the context of recapitulating Becerra Tanco's account of indigenous sources that Florencia now mentions (Chapter XVI) a notebook possessed by D. Fernando de Alva, which was handwritten in Nahuatl using Latin letters by an Indian who was educated in the Colegio de Santa Cruz in Tlatelolco. Strangely, Florencia does not seem to grasp that this notebook is the same as that from which his "ancient relation," discussed in Chapter XIII, was translated. This is because he did not possess the original Nahuatl manuscript, or even if he had possessed it, he would not have been able to read it. His present description of Fernando de Alva's notebook (Chapter XVI) is entirely based on Becerra Tanco's description. Florencia appears to be entirely unaware that the "ancient relation" in his possession is a paraphrastic translation of that same notebook.

Adding to the confusion, Florencia conjectures, without foundation, that this Nahuatl notebook is what Luis Lasso de la Vega published in 1640 [sic]. This error has been repeated by many Guadalupan scholars, leading to the common misidentification of D. Antonio Valeriano (author of the Nahuatl notebook, we shall see) as the author of the Nican mopohua printed by Lasso de la Vega. In fact, we have seen that this notebook, the source of Florencia's "ancient relation," is distinct in content from the Nican mopohua, though sufficiently similar to suggest that there is some relation of dependence. Florencia's misidentification of the Alva notebook as the Nican mopohua results in the bizarre error of splitting a single document into two. On the one hand, there is the Nahuatl original of the "ancient relation" translated by Fernando de Alva (Chapter XIII), and on the other there is this notebook of Fernando de Alva that supposedly was identical with the Nican mopohua. In fact, there was only one document, and the latter characterization is erroneous. When we carefully examine the testimony of D. Carlos Sigüenza, we will be able to clean up the mess of things that Florencia has made, which has led many others to stumble.

Another writing, in the form of annals, was possessed by the Jesuit father Baltasar González, a great preacher fluent in Nahuatl, known as the Mexican Cicero. This writing, Florencia says, was in the hand of an Indian, and followed the history of the Culhuas and Toletecs from their origin, noting the years and months, all the way to the year 1642. The miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe is mentioned in the appropriate year. Florencia conjectures that the narrative in Becerra Tanco's ancient notebook was derived from this annal. This is highly unlikely, since such annals tend to be cursory in content. He also asserts that Becerra Tanco translated from that notebook (i.e., the Nahuatl manuscript possessed by Alva) the dialogues between Juan Diego and the Virgin, which is a reasonable inference, as we have seen from our discussion of Becerra Tanco.

Still, Florencia has created at least as much confusion as illumination regarding the source texts possessed by Fernando de Alva, so we will need Sigüenza's testimony to sort things out. Before we do this, however, we will briefly review the remaining miracle narratives that Florencia relates, and see how they compare with what is contained in other sources.

Later Miracles of Guadalupe

Earlier (XIII, 9), Florencia discussed a few of the eleven miracle stories in his ancient relation, and assured that he would discuss the remaining miracles in a later section. In Chapters XIX-XXI, he fulfills this promise, though he does not seem to confine himself to his ancient source. In Chapter XIII, he had mentioned: (a) the resurrection of the Indian killed by an arrow; (b) the cure of Juan de Tovar, seer of Our Lady of Los Remedios, from illnesses including blindness; (c) the cure of a hydropic woman, and the accompanying appearance of a snake. This last, he said, was the fourth of eleven miracles. Now, in Chapters XIX-XXI, he describes ten miracles, including (a) and (b), but he does not repeat (c). Thus there are eleven miracle accounts overall in Florencia, but there is reason to doubt that these correspond to the eleven in Fernando de Alva's early seventeenth century translation.

The ten miracles described in Chapters XIX-XXI are as follows:

  1. An Indian killed by an arrow during the procession is miraculously restored to life.
  2. In 1544, during a severe plague, the Franciscans in Tlatelolco led a procession to Tepeyácac. From that day onward, only two or three persons died each day, instead of a hundred.
  3. D. Juan, the Indian who discovered Our Lady of Los Remedios, fell ill and was brought to Tepeyácac, where he was cured of illnesses, including blindness.
  4. A young relative of don Antonio Carbajal was dragged by his startled horse for half a league, but was miraculously spared any injury. He had invoked Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose shrine they had passed.
  5. A large hanging lamp fell on a Spanish man who was praying at the shrine. The lamp was heavy enough to kill him, but he was uninjured and the lamp was undamaged and still lit.
  6. The vicar of the shrine, Juan Vázquez de Acuña, was about to say Mass, when all the candles went out. While he waited for someone to get a new fire, two beams of light appeared and lit the candles, to the marvel of those in attendance.
  7. The city of Mexico is delivered from the flood of 1629.
  8. A friar named Pedro de Valderrama had an incurable ulcer in his leg, so his foot needed amputation. They took him to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In her presence, he untied the rag around his toe and prayed to be healed. He was instantly cured and walked back to Pachuca on foot. [Florencia gives the version of Fr. Baltasar de Medina, - see below]
  9. A Spanish gentleman, D. Juan de Castilla [sic], had a badly swollen leg, which the doctors could not cure. On the advice of the above-mentioned friar, he made a leg of silver, the size of his own leg, and sent it to the shrine of Guadalupe. When it was placed before the Image, his own leg was healed. The envoy who had left him to die found upon return that the man was well enough to walk to the shrine to give thanks.
  10. Francisco de Almazán, an honored resident of México, found that on 13 September 1643, as the Feast of Guadalupe was then celebrated on Mary's Nativity, there was bullfighting in the small plaza of the Sanctuary's hospice. When it was time to go home, an unruly, ferocious bull came out and scared the bullfighters away, leaving Almazán alone with it. He prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the bull suddenly turned and left, when it was on the point of wounding him. Almazán, for his part, honored her feast day every year thenceforth. [This story was corroborated and amplified by a religious interviewed by Florencia.]

The flood of 1629 and the miraculous sparing of Almazán in 1643 occurred too late to be in a document as old as Florencia believes Alva's translation of the "ancient relation" to be, so he cannot have gathered these stories from it. Clearly, he must have used other sources, though only in one instance does he explicitly identify such a source. In his account of Pedro de Valderrama's miracle, Florencia says he is following Fr. Baltasar de Medina's version. He further notes that this is the sixth miracle in the "ancient Relation," which differs slightly from Medina's version, saying that the ulcer was in the toe, and was already cancerous. This agrees with Lasso de la Vega's account, which is otherwise less detailed than Medina's version. Florencia notes that the miracle about Juan de Castilla continues immediately in the ancient relation, as a supplement to the story of Valderrama. The same is true in Lasso de la Vega's Nican moctepana.

From this data, we can make some comparisons among the lists of miracles presented by Sánchez, Lasso de la Vega, Florencia, and the "ancient Relation" as translated by Alva.

Miracle AccountSánchezLassoFlorenciaAlva
Indian killed by arrow1111
Plague (1544)222
Juan of Los Remedios3332-3
Carbajal - runaway horse444
Falling lamp555
Acuña - candles (c. 1600)666
Spring appears7
Hydropic lady, snake84
Spaniard - pain in head & ears9
Catalina - dropsy, drank water10
Flood (1629)77
Pedro de Valderrama - foot/toe1186
Luis de Castilla - foot1297
Juan Pavón, sacristan; son's neck swollen13
Don Francisco Quetzalmamalitzin; town destroyed; people pardoned (1558)14
Francisco de Almazán - bullfighting (1643)10

For his first seven miracle accounts (Chapter XIX), Florencia follows the sequence in Sánchez rather than Alva's manuscript. He apparently uses the latter only to supplement or compare with the published tradition. After an extensive discussion of the flood of 1629 (Chapter XX), he gives three more miracle stories (Chapter XXI), two of which are also in Alva's manuscript. The stories of the flood and the rampaging bull almost certainly were not found in the ancient relation, being of too recent a date. Accordingly, we cannot be certain that the miracles pertaining to the plague of 1544, the young man dragged by a horse, the falling lamp, and the shrine's candles were to be found in Alva's old manuscript.

Alva's manuscript includes miracles not found in Sánchez, and omits some found in Lasso de la Vega. Since Florencia identifies only five of the eleven miracles in Alva's manuscript, we cannot be sure which of Lasso de la Vega's accounts are omitted and which are recounted in a different sequence. We do not know if the miracle involving the seer of Los Remedios was the second or third in the manuscript. If it was the third, then the miraculous relief from the plague of 1544 was likely the second, which means miracles 4-6 in Lasso de la Vega were either omitted or placed in a different sequence.

If Lasso de la Vega used Alva's manuscript as a source of the Nican moctepana, he must have supplemented this material with other sources, and possibly rearranged the stories so his first six would match those of Sánchez. This latter supposition is supported by the fact that Lasso de la Vega's miracles are out of chronological sequence. The sixth miracle must have taken place around 1600, when Acuña was vicar, long after the fourteenth miracle (1558), and probably after the miracles involving the spring (7 through 10). It is likely, then, that Alva's manuscript preserves the original sequence.

Given that the Alva manuscript was written no later than the 1610s, the miracles involving Valderrama and Castilla must have occurred before the 1629 flood, contrary to the sequence presented by Florencia. Apparently, it was not Florencia's intent to determine the correct chronological sequence, but rather in Chapter XXI he lists those miracles not found in Sánchez that he believes to be authentic.

Although there is not sufficient evidence to determine which eleven miracles were in Alva's manuscript, we can at least make a plausible reconstruction. Let us assume that the original six miracles found in Sánchez and Lasso de la Vega are part of the most widely received tradition, in which case we should expect to find them in Alva. This adds four miracles to the five reported by Florencia, giving us a total of nine, leaving two more. There are many possible choices, but one plausible sequence, consistent with available evidence, is as follows: (1) Indian killed by arrow; (2) plague of 1544; (3) Juan of Los Remedios; (4) hydropic lady and snake; (5) Spaniard with pain in head and ears; (6) Pedro de Valderrama's foot; (7) Luis de Castilla's foot; (8) Don Francisco Quetzalmamalitzin and his town; (9) Carbajal's relative dragged by a horse; (10) the falling lamp; (11) Acuña and the candles. Note that the last two miracles had to have been relatively late (1590-1610), since they depict a well-furnished and staffed church at Guadalupe.

On the above supposition, Lasso de la Vega would have added only these three miracles: (1) the appearance of the spring (or this was not counted as a miracle by Florencia); (2) the healing of Catalina (an additional spring-related miracle, inserted right after the others); (3) Juan Pavón and the healing of his son's neck. These last two, we will see, are considered by Florencia to be relatively recent miracles, so they were probably not present in his ancient account.

Interestingly, the last miracle story in the Nican moctepana has a protagonist - Francisco Quetzalmamalitzin - whose name resembles that in Florencia's last story, Francisco de Almazán, who was saved from a rampaging bull in 1643. Possibly, there was a confusion of names in one of these stories, which are completely dissimilar in all other respects.

In Florencia's narrative, the flood of 1629 serves as a dividing line between the traditional six miracles of Sánchez and the stories gleaned from other sources. Florencia discusses the flood in some depth, since, as he admits, it is not clear why the end of this inundation years later was attributed to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Sánchez, who lived through the flood, made this claim, as did some of the witnesses in the investigation of 1666. It is not mentioned by Lasso de la Vega.

The great flood of Mexico City began in September 1629 and lasted until 1634. The image of Guadalupe was brought to the Cathedral of Mexico in the early days of the flood, and there it remained for four years, yet the flood did not abate, and the city was ruined. Florencia spent much time investigating the matter, after having believed for many years, following the supposition of many educated and pious men, that this was a favor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. What he had not known was what happened to a particular handmaiden of God when the Image was brought to Mexico. This was told to him by Lic. D. Bartolomé Rosales, Secretary of the Cabildo of the Metropolitan Church.

The archbishop of Mexico at that time, D. Francisco Manzo y Zúñiga, in consultation with the Viceroy, ordered that the Image of Guadalupe be brought from her shrine to the city of Mexico. They went to the shrine in canoes, since travel by land was impossible, and brought the Image back toward the city. When the Image of Guadalupe came near the parochial church of Santa Catalina Mártir, the image of Santa Catalina came out to greet her, and received her into her house. From there the miraculous Image of Guadalupe was brought to the Archbishop's palace that night.

Four years later, the flood had still not subsided, while the Image of Guadalupe remained in the Archbishop's palace. A nun of the convent of San José del Cármen in Mexico City, named Inés de la Cruz, prayed for the deliverance of the city using the words prescribed by the Church for days of penitence. Then the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to her, in the appearance of a severe Judge, with his Most Holy Mother to his right, and Sta. Catalina, his chaste spouse, to his left. The virgin martyr prayed to the Holy Mother that she would intercede with her Son, that he may lift the punishment afflicting Mexico. The Blessed Mother, prostrate before her Son, begged that he take pity on this city so full of devotion, which had been chosen to imprint her miraculous Image, to imprint devotion in the city. The Savior answered, turning to the nun:

This City and those in it deserve the ultimate punishment, which I have deliberated in the Tribunal of my Justice against them, to put an end to it with this inundation, just as I did to the world with the Deluge; but the pleas of my Mother have detained my arm... and they oblige me to lift my hand from everything, and command the waves that execute my Justice to withdraw...

He further instructed the nun to tell the Archbishop so that the Mexicans may know that it was out of respect for his Mother that the City would not be ended. From that point onward, the flood tides began to drain away, the continual rain ceased, and the waters withdrew from the streets of the city.

The nun spoke of her vision to her confessor, D. Alonso de Cuevas y Avalos. He believed her to be truthful, and referred the matter to the Archbishop. The veracity of the revelation was confirmed by the fact that thenceforth, day by day, the waters retreated into the lake of Texcuco, and the streets of Mexico were again passable. As in all events, even those of extraordinary providence, there are natural causes to be found, so was the accelerated decrease of the waters attributed to an earthquake that shook the lake bed shortly afterward. Yet the testimony of D. Alonso de Cuevas y Avalos assures us that Mexico did not perish in the flood because of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In Chapter XXV, Florencia adds some more miracle stories, which he characterizes as being more recent. Most of these, dating from the 1660s to the 1680s, need not concern us, though we should mention that he includes here those of Catalina de Mocta and Juan Pavón. Since these are counted as relatively recent miracles by Florencia, it is unlikely they were to be found in his "ancient Relation."

Lastly, he mentions fourteen miracles that are depicted in paintings in the Church at Guadalupe. These include: men dragged by furious horses; children run over by a coach; a vain woman who repents and is spared death; another person near death who is healed; two ships escaping a tempest by invoking Our Lady.

Observations of the Image

In two parts of his book, Florencia offers some observations of the miraculous image that are not found in other sources. The first is in Chapter X, where Florencia relates a story told to him by Francisco de Siles, the same who wrote a dedicatory letter for P. Sánchez and who managed the ecclesiastical investigation of 1666.

Siles said that in the early years shortly after the apparition, it seemed pious to those who took care of the cult that the image should be surrounded by cherubim. These were painted around the rays of the sun, but in a short time they became disfigured. As these deformed cherubim detracted from the beauty of the image, they were finally erased. This story was corroborated by Don Juan de Casaus Cervantes, gentleman of the Order of Santiago and senior Comptroller of the Tribunal de Cuentas of Mexico, who had heard it from his father. Florencia finds that this testimony proves the providential preservation of the miraculous image, since ordinary painting on the same material became corrupted in a short time. At the same time, however, this story bears witness that the image was altered by human hands at least once.

Florencia had the opportunity to see the image outside its tabernacle and to touch it with his hand, in the presence of Siles and others unnamed. On that occasion, he decided to examine the reverse side of the cloth, the observations of which he records in Chapter XXIV. To the surprise of all present, instead of seeing the shadow of the image through the thin cloth, they only saw some smudges of color, "like juice pressed from various flowers and leaves". It seemed that they could make out "the green of the lily's leaf, the snow white of the lily, the red-purple of the iris, the blushing pink of the rose, the blue of the violet, the yellow of the retama, mixed with one another with distinction, and separated in an unconfused mixture". They spent a long while looking at the reverse of the cloth and identifying the various colors. All agreed "it seemed that the Image had been copied not with a brush, but in the way that the images of seals are stamped". More speculatively, Florencia suggests it was as if a turnscrew had pressed all the juice out of the flowers and leaves in the tilma, and any excess color beyond what was needed for the image had oozed through the back.

Florencia remarks that painters who had observed the tilma on other occasions claimed to be able to see the image from the reverse side. He believes what they have said, but he also believes what his own eyes have seen, without pretending to resolve this mystery.

This is all the original material pertinent to our inquiry that can be gleaned from Florencia's book. His lengthy volume did not enjoy the same popularity as Becerra Tanco's Felicidad de México, which became the standard version of the Guadalupe narrative for the next two hundred years. Florencia's Estrella de el norte de México was cited by some important Guadalupan scholars of the eighteenth century, but by the nineteenth century, only the most erudite specialists were even aware of its existence. It was finally republished in Guadalajara in 1895, when it again attracted wide interest.

Testimony of D. Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora

P. Florencia is a valuable witness to the content of Fernando de Alva's ancient manuscript, as he is the only author who explicitly claims to be quoting from it directly. Unfortunately, as we have noted, his testimony about the manuscript is often indirect and unclear, and his conjectures about its origins have misled many later scholars. Lamentably, Florencia never did publish the manuscript's text, leaving room for confusion about its content. Many scholars, whether supporting or opposing the authenticity of the apparition narrative, have maintained that Alva's manuscript was mostly identical to the Nican mopohua and Nican moctepana published by Luis Lasso de la Vega, yet we have seen numerous indications of substantial differences between Alva's manuscript and Lasso's Nahuatl text of 1649. Fortunately, we have in our favor an important testimony by an eminently capable witness regarding the origin of the Alva manuscript; he is none other than Don Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora (1645-1700).

Sigüenza's name should be familiar to anyone who has studied the intellectual history of baroque Spanish America. He was the most accomplished and erudite scholar in the New World at that time, renowned even in the courts of Europe, and his expertise spanned the fields of astronomy, mathematics, cartography, civil engineering, political philosophy and history, to name only the more prominent interests of this polymath. Coming from a scholar of the first rank, Sigüenza’s testimony carries great weight, especially since we know from his historical works that he was scrupulous about properly identifying the provenance of source documents and assessing their credibility.

Sigüenza addresses some of Florencia's claims in the tenth chapter of the book Piedad heroyca de D. Fernando Cortés, first printed in Mexico around 1690, shortly after Florencia's Estrella de el norte de México was published (1688). Sigüenza's book discussed the "heroic piety" of the famous conquistador Cortés, whose personal efforts resulted in the founding of the Hospital de la Inmaculada Concepción de Nuestra Señora del Patronato del Marqués del Valle, the oldest hospital in Mexico. In this work, Sigüenza takes care to establish the antiquity of the hospital using historical documents. In the course of his research, he found documents establishing which houses were occupied by Bishop Zumárraga in 1531, the reputed year of the Guadalupan apparitions.

The author tells the reader that his digression about the bishop's houses "will be very brief," but in fact this Guadalupan tangent will extend through the rest of the chapter. First, he challenges Florencia's assertion that Zumárraga lived in the houses now occupied by the counts of Santiago, "situated on the street of Relox and los Donceles, looking west". (Piedad Heroyca, ed. Jaime Delgado, 1960, p. 57.) Contrary to this claim, Sigüenza found documents proving that the archbishop's palace of his era was the same as that first purchased by Juan de Zumárraga for 800 gold pesos on February 12, 1530. The new bishop also bought two small adjoining houses to serve as an ecclesiastical jail and a bell foundry. (Ibid., p. 59.) In sum, various sources show that...

...las casas que hoy son arzobispales, son los mismos que compró para su habitación D. fray Juan de Zumárraga, y dónde le afirmo al emperador había vivido y morado cuando se fue a España. La imagen de María Santísima de Guadalupe se le apareció en su propia casa; luego esta aparición fue en las casas que hoy son arzobispales.

...the houses that are today archepiscopal, are the same that D. Fray Juan de Zumárraga bought for his dwelling, and where he affirmed to the emperor he had lived and resided when he went to Spain. The image of Most Holy Mary of Guadalupe appeared to him in his own house; then this apparition was in the houses that are today archepiscopal. (Piedad heroyca, p. 61.

Later scholarship has identified the modern location of the archbishop's palace from Sigüenza's time, which was the same as that occupied by Zumárraga. This is on the street Moneda (formerly Calle Real), between Seminario and Licenciado Verdad. [Ramón Sánchez-Flores, “Localización de la casa de fray Juan de Zumárraga donde se veneró la imagen de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Nuevas noticias documentales”, in Centro de Estudios Guadalupanos A.C., Tercer Encuentro Guadalupano, 5, 6, y 7 de diciembre de 1978, Mexico, Editorial Jus, 1979, pp. 80-101.]

Having corrected Florencia on the location of Zumárraga's dwelling, Sigüenza now goes on a digression within his digression, taking care to clarify certain facts about the Guadalupan documents he had lent to the Jesuit author. First, he defends the historical fact that Juan Diego did indeed visit the bishop in his house.

Que le mandó la Santísima Virgen al dichosísimo indio Juan Diego (cuyo nombre antes de bautizarse fue Cuauhtlatoatzin) fuese a la casa del Obispo y que allí le manifestó la imagen es cosa que dicen uniformes cuantas relaciones históricas hasta aquí se han impreso, y con especialidad una antiquíssima, que aun tengo MS. y estimo en mucho, y es la misma que presté al R. P. Francisco de Florencia para que ilustrase su historia.

That the Most Holy Virgin ordered the most fortunate Indian Juan Diego (whose name before being baptized was Cuauhtlatoatzin) to go to the house of the Bishop and that there the image appeared to him is a thing that many historical accounts printed until now say in agreement, and especially a very ancient one, that I still have in manuscript and I greatly esteem, and it is the same that I lent to the Rev. Father Francisco de Florencia that he may illustrate his history. (Piedad heroyca, num. 111, p. 63.)

Sigüenza parenthetically gives us the name of Juan Diego prior to baptism as 'Cuauhtlatoatzin', which literally parses as 'speak-[reverential suffix] something-eagle', and may be interpreted as, "he who reverently speaks something like an eagle". He does not indicate the source of this datum, as this is only incidental to his main point, which is to attest that the historicity of Juan Diego is established by many sources, including a very old one that he lent to P. Florencia.

This most ancient document is likely not the translated notebook made by Fernando de Alva, nor even the Nahuatl original from which the translation was made. Rather, it is the canticle mentioned by Florencia in Chapter XV of his book, which he says Sigüenza "guarded like a treasure, and he gave it to me to illustrate this history". The striking similarity between Florencia's description and Sigüenza's leads us to believe they are referring to the same document. We should not be surprised that Sigüenza would esteem this canticle more highly than the "ancient Relation" translated by Alva. The song was believed to have been composed by D. Francisco Plácido of Azcapotzalco, and sung on the day the Image was first moved to its shrine. If authentic, it would be even older than the ancient Relation, and Sigüenza had long exhibited a fondness for poetic forms of expression, having himself composed the poem Primavera indiana in tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe at the age of seventeen in 1662.

It is only later in his digression that Sigüenza explicitly refers to the Alva manuscript, and this is for the purpose of correcting Florencia's erroneous claim, supposedly derived from Agustin de Betancourt, that the original author was the Franciscan Jerónimo de Mendieta. In fact, Betancourt attributed the document doubtfully to either Mendieta or Fernando de Alva, though Florencia could eliminate the latter due to the difference in handwriting between the Nahuatl original and Alva's translation. Sigüenza was vexed at this erroneous attribution to Mendieta, which was inserted in Florencia’s work after he had endorsed it (11 January 1687). On the matter of the manuscript's authorship, Sigüenza's testimony is solemn and unequivocal:

Digo, y juro, que esta Relacion hallé entre los papeles de Don Fernando de Alva, que tengo todos, y que es las misma que afirma vió el Lic. Luis de Becerra en su Libro aver visto en su poder. El Original en Mexicano está de letra de D. Antonio Valeriano, que es su veradero Author, y al fin añadidos algunos milagros de letra de Don Fernando, tambien en Mexicano. Lo que presté al Rmo. P. Francisco de Florencia fue una traducion parafrastica que de uno, y otro hizo D. Fernando, y tambien está de su letra.

I say, and swear, that I found this Relation among the papers of Don Fernando de Alva, of which I have all of them, and that it is the same that Lic. de Becerra in his Book affirms to have seen in his possession. The Original in Mexican is in the handwriting of D. Antonio Valeriano, who is its true Author, and at the end are added some miracles in the handwriting of Don Fernando, also in Mexican. What I lent to the Most Rev. Father Francisco de Florencia was a paraphrastic translation that D. Fernando made from one and the other, and is also in his handwriting. (Piedad heroyca, num 114)

Sigüenza is eminently qualified to attest to these facts, since he was a personal friend of Fernando de Alva Ixtlixóchitl (c. 1568-1648), a Mexican historian of noble Indian ancestry. Shortly after his death in 1648, the library of Alva Ixtlixóchitl was passed from his son to Sigüenza. Alva Ixtlixóchitl, in turn, had personally known Antonio Valeriano (d. 1605), a well-known Indian scholar who, like Alva, had been educated in the Colegio de Santa Cruz in Tlatelolco. Given these intimate connections, it is extremely unlikely that Sigüenza could have been mistaken regarding this attribution, and it would be contrary to his scrupulous scholarship to make an unsolicited solemn affirmation about facts he considered less than certain. We can hold it as a near certainty, then, that the authorship of the ancient manuscripts was as Sigüenza lays out:

(1a) A Nahuatl manuscript of the Relation, in the hand of Antonio Valeriano, who is the original author
(1b) Some miracle stories appended to the above, also in Nahuatl, in the hand of Fernando de Alva Ixtlixóchitl
(2) A paraphrased Spanish translation of (1a) and (1b), in the hand of Alva Ixtlixóchitl

Sigüenza says he only lent Alva's Spanish translation (2) to Florencia. He also affirms that he had a close friendship with Becerra Tanco (Piedad heroyca, p. 63.), and that they had discussed Indian antiquities, so he is likely correct in his assertion that these documents are the same as those mentioned in Becerra Tanco's book.

We note that Sigüenza makes a distinction between two parts of the Nahuatl manuscript: the first part (1a) was written by Antonio Valeriano, while the later miracle stories (1b) were written by Fernando de Alva. This distinction is important if we are to understand Sigüenza's argument that Jerónimo de Mendieta could not have been the author, since some of the miracles in the Nahuatl manuscript occurred "years after the death" of P. Mendieta in 1604. It is not a sound counterargument to say that Valeriano likewise could not be the author, having died in 1605, for Sigüenza does not claim that Valeriano was the sole author of the entire Nahuatl manuscript. On the contrary, he explicitly indicates that the latter part of it was written by Fernando de Alva, whose handwriting he would certainly have recognized.

Sigüenza's identification of Antonio Valeriano as the original author of this Guadalupan manuscript has important implications, though we must be careful not to exaggerate what can be inferred from this testimony. In Valeriano, we have a highly credible author, an indigenous scholar who worked under Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, who regarded him as the most learned of his collaborators. (Sahagún, Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España) He was a good friend of the Franciscan historian Fray Juan de Torquemada (c. 1564-1624), to whom he taught Nahuatl, and Torquemada writes of him in Monarquía indiana:

Antonio Valeriano, Indio, vecino de Azcapotzalco, a una legua de esta ciudad, gobernador de esa parte de la ciudad de San Juan, cual llaman Tenochtitlan, donde como buen conocedor de latín, lógico y filósofo, sucedió a sus maestros en el Colegio de Tlatelolco y luego fue elegido gobernador de México y gobernaba más de 35 años los indios de esta Ciudad, con grande aceptación de los Virreyes, y edificación de los Españoles; y por ser Hombre de muy buen Talento, tuvo noticia el Rey de él, y le escribió una carta muy favorable.

Antonio Valeriano, Indian, [native/resident] of Azcapotzalco, a league from this city, governor of this part of the city of San Juan, which they call Tenochititlan, where as one well versed in Latin, a logician and philosopher, succeeded his teachers in the College of Tlatelolco and later was elected governor of Mexico and governed the Indians of this city for more than 35 years, with the great approval of the Viceroys, and the edification of the Spanish; and for being a Man of very good Talent, the King took notice of him, and wrote him a very favorable letter.

This glowing résumé is corroborated by other sources, such as the Sermonario of Juan Baptista (1606), which explicitly calls him a "native" (natural) of Azcaputzalco [sic]. Recall that Azcapotzalco is the town from which the ancient canticle treasured by Sigüenza is reputed to have originated. Valeriano was a man of importance, entrusted with governing the Indians of the city for thirty-five years, as well as a serious man of learning. His authorship of a Guadalupan narrative would lend substantial authority to that version of events.

It remains to be determined, however, what exactly Valeriano's narrative asserted. Our only definite indications so far are from Florencia's citations of Alva's paraphrased translation. Sigüenza makes no claim that Valeriano's manuscript is in any way related to, much less identical with, Lasso de la Vega's Nican mopohua. We have seen in our discussion of Florencia that these two accounts were likely very similar, though they also differed substantially in places. Valeriano, then, could be invoked as an early authority for all of the basic facts of the traditional Guadalupe narrative, but, in the absence of his manuscript or a copy of it, it is impossible to say precisely which details he endorsed.

At least this much is practically certain: whatever Valeriano wrote about Guadalupe, he intended it as a work of history and not of fiction. He was well enough immersed in Western learning and culture to fully appreciate this distinction. If Valeriano intended his work to be a fanciful romance, this was completely lost on his friend Fernando de Alva Ixtlixóchitl, who took care to append reports of recent miraculous cures to the narrative, embedding the former in a historical continuity. Alva Ixtlixóchitl clearly took Valeriano's account to be historical, and it is hardly credible that Valeriano would have deliberately or unknowingly deceived him on this matter, since they were contemporaries for many years.

Still, in order for Sigüenza's testimony to realize its full potential in attesting to the authenticity of the Guadalupe narrative, we need greater clarity as to the content of Valeriano's manuscript. We must attempt to discover the subsequent fate of Sigüenza's papers, including the Valeriano manuscript, after his death in 1700. This inquiry will take us down a convoluted path, leading to a surprising result.

Sigüenza's Lost Manuscripts

As a young man, Sigüenza had been dismissed from the Jesuit order for violating the rule of cloister; he had only completed his first vows. Later in life, he petitioned to be readmitted to the order, but this was never accomplished. Nonetheless, he bequeathed many of his papers and all of his books to the Colegio de S. Pedro y S. Pablo de la Compañia de Jesús. His nephew Don Gabriel was the executor of his will, a document that is unfortunately lost. Juan José Eguiara y Eguren in his Bibliotheca Mexicana (1752) informs us that not everything was willed to the Jesuit fathers. Many manuscripts disappeared shortly after Don Carlos's death, while some of Sigüenza's own writings were given to a professor of medicine. The Jesuits received twenty-eight volumes of Sigüenza's writings and collected manuscripts, as well as his entire library of 470 books. These documents, which Don Carlos acquired at great personal expense and effort, constitute the bulk of his great scholarly contribution to Mexican history, vastly exceeding his published output. It is possible, but not certain, that the Valeriano manuscript and other indigenous documents from the collection of Alva Ixtlixóchitl would have been found in the Jesuit library after Sigüenza's death in 1700.

Several documents of Alva Ixtlixóchitl came into the possession of Lorenzo Boturini Benaducci (1702-1755), but I will show that it is extremely unlikely that Boturini's collection ever contained the Valeriano manuscript or Alva's translation. This Italian scholar was permitted by the Spanish government to travel to Mexico, where he arrived in 1736, for the purpose of researching ancient indigenous history. In the course of his studies, he gathered many manuscripts and pictographic codices, some of which were from Alva Ixtlixóchitl's collection. An examination of Boturini’s catalog of his collection - called the Museo Histórico - indicates that the Guadalupan sources we seek are not to be found there.

Boturini was greatly interested in promoting the cult of Guadalupe, so his catalog of acquired documents - mostly copies but with some originals - includes about three dozen items pertaining to this most famous apparition. In Paragraph xxxiv, he lists thirteen printed books pertaining to Guadalupe. The first six are:

  1. The history of the apparitions by Miguel Sánchez.
  2. A novena by the same author.
  3. A history in Nahuatl by Luis Lasso de la Vega.
  4. Spanish translation of the above, which Boturini ordered made.
  5. A history in Spanish by Becerra Tanco.
  6. A history by Francisco de Florencia.

The remaining seven are later documents in Western languages, and need not concern us. Interestingly, in his listing of Lasso de la Vega's work, Boturini provides the following discussion about authorship: "This is not, nor can it be, from said author, as it is argued to be from don Antonio Valeriano, or some other Indian student from the Imperial College of Santiago Tlatelolco..." He goes on to argue that the miracle story about the rebellious Indians of Teotihuacán could only have been written by an Indian from Azcapotzalco (where don Francisco Quetzalmamalitzin is said to have fled). Such argument would be completely unnecessary if Boturini had possessed Valeriano's original handwritten manuscript or Alva Ixtlixóchitl's translation to compare with Lasso de la Vega's printed history.

Boturini says that Becerra Tanco's history was based on the monuments of the Indians, but this author did not give a specific account of these, nor did he take care to add these to his history or leave the originals in a safe place for others to examine. It seems that Boturini, as far as he knew, did not possess any of Becerra Tanco's indigenous source documents.

Regarding Florencia's history, Boturini says that "there is little ancient evidence; but it is not possible for a religious, subject to obedience, to be able to traverse the land, as I have done, searching for many years for adequate news of the portentous miracle." Evidently, Boturini was not impressed by Florencia's occasional references to the "ancient Relation," if he even took notice of these.

In Paragraph xxxv, Boturini lists twelve Guadalupan manuscripts that he examined. The first seven are:

  1. The Nahuatl history by Lasso de la Vega, which Boturini contends should be counted among manuscripts by Indian authors.
  2. A Nahuatl manuscript of half-folio length. It deals with many events of the Aztec empire, and a few lines mention that the Most Holy Lady appeared on the hill of Tepeyácac. The author did not put the correct Arabic numerals for the year of the apparition, but the history is ancient and credible.
  3. Two Nahuatl manuscripts that mention the apparition in brief lines, on the appropriate year.
  4. A manuscript dealing with the history of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Los Remedios. It says the fifth apparition of Guadalupe was to the cacique don Juan Bernardino de Tovar ce Quauhtzin Tequitlato, from the town of Los Remedios, which in pagan times was called Totoltepec. No other source, Indian or Spanish, except Florencia, mentions this fifth apparition, according to Boturini.
  5. Fragments that Boturini copied from Sigüenza y Góngora, he gathers that don Antonio Valeriano, an Indian cacique from Azcapotzalco and master of rhetoric in the Imperial College of Tlatelolco, wrote the Historia de las apariciones de Guadalupe in Nahuatl. The "same Sigüenza, under oath, confesses that he had it in his possession, in the hand of don Antonio, that perhaps it is the same that Lasso de la Vega printed". Boturini notes that he has in his archive "signatures of don Antonio to compare them with his original history, whenever it appears."
  6. From these same fragments, Boturini discovered another manuscript of the same History of Guadalupe, in Spanish, with don Fernando de Alva Ixtlixóchitl, whose handwriting he recognizes. Boturini says he was searching for this diligently.
  7. Florencia mentions that don Francisco Plácido of Azcapotzalco composed a song in Nahuatl recording the history of the apparition, and this was found among the papers of don Domingo de San Antón Muñon Chimalpain. Boturini laments that P. Florencia never appended it to the end of his history, because it now runs the risk of having been lost.

First, Boturini's inclusion of Lasso de la Vega's account here under "manuscripts" should not be taken to mean that he had a handwritten original. On the contrary, this second mention is based solely on Boturini's inference that Lasso de la Vega's printed work must have been based on an original written by an Indian.

The next three sources clearly do not correspond to the Valeriano narrative, which is mentioned only in item 5. Yet here, Boturini relies solely on fragments from Sigüenza, which we have already discussed. Had he possessed the original, he would not need to rely on Sigüenza's testimony. Boturini did have writing samples by Valeriano in his archive to compare with this ancient history if it should ever show up.

Similarly, Boturini's reference to the Alva manuscript relies on Sigüenza. Once more, he promises to be able to identify the handwriting if the document is found.

Lastly, Boturini notes the ancient canticle mentioned by Florencia. Interestingly, he does not remark about Florencia's references to the Alva manuscripts. Again, he describes the document at second hand, and clearly has never seen it himself.

The remaining five documents (not listed above) do not correspond to the Valeriano manuscript or its translation. This is evident not only from Boturini's descriptions, but also from the fact that he was actively seeking these documents and would surely have noted any putative similarities.

In Paragraph xxxvi, Boturini notes various other documents that substantiate the historicity of the Guadalupan tradition, some of which are still extant, and will be discussed later. For now, it suffices to note that none of these correspond to the manuscripts we seek from Sigüenza's collection. At least one of these documents was gathered from the library of the "Colegio Máximo de la sagrada Compañia de San Pedro y San Pablo". Clearly, Boturini had access to the library that housed much of Sigüenza's collection, yet he was not able to find these critical documents.

There were many in Mexico who resented the idea of a foreigner gathering all the documents of the nation’s patrimony. Cayetano Cabrera y Quintero, for example, expressed this sentiment in his Escudo de armas de México (1746). In 1743, Boturini was arrested after being falsely accused of violating the terms of his stay in Mexico. His entire collection was confiscated, and he was sent on a ship to Spain. He was captured at sea, however, by English pirates, who stole all his personal effects and stranded him on Gibraltar. From there he traveled to Madrid on foot, and the king exonerated him of the false charges. Boturini declined the king’s offer of a return to New Spain and the restoration of his collection, so the Museo historico remained in the office of the secretary of the viceroy.

Over the years, some of the documents from Boturini’s collection were brought to Spain, Germany, and France, while the rest remained in the library of the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico, where the collection was transferred in 1771. (Enrique Florescano, El Patrimonio Nacional de México, II, p. 252.) The details of this later history need not concern us, since we have already established that the documents we seek were never in Boturini’s collection.

In Escudo de armas de México, a Guadalupan history written in 1746, the author Cayetano Cabrera y Quintero seems to mention an ancient relation that came into his possession. He clearly did not have the Alva manuscript mentioned by Florencia, since he depends on Florencia's description on that document. However, after saying, based on Florencia's specious argument, that the Nahuatl original of Alva's narrative must have been written before the Gregorian reform, he adds:

La misma antiguedad se prueba en los cantares, y relaciones escritas con nuestras caracteres en el Idioma Mexicano. Porque de aquellos (ignorandose el paradero del mas antiguo que guardó, y franqueó al Padre Florencia, Don Carlos de Siguenza) no ay ya sino la memoria, y testificacion de que fueron. Y de las otras, aunque se conservan algunas, y tengo en mi poder traducida a Idioma Mexicano, ó escrita en él, la que copió D. Fernando de Alva, de nuestro Castellano, y escribió en uno, y otro Idioma su Author, con todo, respecto del que oy se habla, está tan antiquado el Mexicano, tan rica de frasses, y metaphoras, que aunque oy (y ha casi cien años que se imprimió) se reimprimiesse, podia correr por escritura antigua, corroida de los tiempos, desaparecidas, y casi borradas sus letras, locuciones, frases.

The same antiquity is evidenced in the songs, and relations written with our characters in the Mexican Language. Because of those (not being known the whereabouts of the oldest one, which Don Carlos de Sigüenza kept and lent to Padre Florencia) there is nothing except memory and testimony that they existed. And of the other [relation]s, although some are preserved, and I have in my possession translated to the Mexican Language, or written in it, what D. Fernando de Alva copied in our Castilian, and its Author wrote in one and the other Language, compared to what is spoken today, the Mexican is so antiquated, so rich in phrases and metaphors, that although today (and it is almost a hundred years since it was printed) it is reprinted, it could pass for ancient writing, corroded by time, its letters, locutions, and phrases faded and almost erased (Escudo de armas de México, p. 324.

This additional Nahuatl relation possessed by Cabrera y Quintero was almost certainly Lasso de la Vega's Nican mopohua, which was printed almost a hundred years earlier (1749). Cabrera's colorful reference to ancient, faded writing is but a metaphor for the antiquity of style he discerns in Lasso's narrative. He infers that the content of this Nahuatl narrative is the same as what Alva copied in Castilian, though he has never seen the Alva manuscript or the more ancient original. Of these, there is nothing but memories, and the "maps" mentioned in the Informaciones of 1666 have completely disappeared. (Ibid., p. 325.)

Juan José Eguiara y Eguren (d. 1763), rector of the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico, mentions in his Bibliotheca Mexicana (1752) the Sigüenza documents he found in the Jesuit Colegio Máximo de San Pedro y San Pablo.

Of the twelve manuscript volumes in folio, we saw eight in the well stocked and excellently equipped library of that College; the rest eluded our notice; either, because they had been transferred elsewhere, or because they were not marked as belonging to the Sigüenza Collection, or, possibly, were stolen from the library. These eight volumes in folio were entitled Historia Mexicana. Two volumes were the Diario compiled by the Mexican secular priest Martín del Guijo; we shall speak later of him and his literary activity. Three of the volumes were designated Fragments of Mexican History. The remaining volumes were of miscellaneous content: ancient history, early writings of Indian authors, in part worked out by Don Fernando de Alva, an Indian of royal lineage and wide erudition, in part collected by him; others were by Don Domingo Chimalpain, likewise and Indian of noble blood and learned; as also by other authors to be mentioned in the course of our Bibliotheca Mexicana, and whom the Cav. Lorenzo Boturini made use of to form his Catálogo del museo histórico. [Eguiara y Eguren, Bibliotheca Mexicana, pp. 384, as translated by Ernest J. Burrus, “Clavigero and the Lost Sigüenza y Góngora Manuscripts,” p. 66.]

From Eguiara y Eguren's testimony, we see that many manuscripts were already missing by around 1750. Sigüenza had donated 28 volumes of manuscripts by other authors to the Jesuit college, and of the twelve volumes in folio, only eight were observed by Eguiara y Eguren. Nonetheless, the remaining volumes included those from the collections of Don Fernando de Alva and Don Domingo Chimalpain, where we might reasonably expect the Guadalupan documents to appear, if indeed they were donated to the college. However, Boturini, who had access to the collection more than a decade earlier, did not find these documents at the college, so it is unlikely that they were in the Alva and Chimalpain folio volumes.

Another important chapter in the history of the Sigüenza collection was unearthed by Ernest J. Burrus, SJ, who presented his findings in the journal Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl (Vol. I), in 1959. It turns out that Francisco Xavier Mariano Clavigero [=Clavijero] (1731-1787) not only studied the Sigüenza collection in 1759, but also recorded a list of the indigenous authors and their writings in his Historia antigua de México (rediscovered and published by Mariano Cuevas, SJ in 1945). Clavigero's list includes all the works of Alva Ixtlixóchitl and Chimalpain that are in Boturini's catalog, with the exceptions of Alva's Dos cantares del célebre Rei Neza hualcoyótl traducidos en poesía Española and Chimalpain's Crónica Mexicana en Mexicano (a copy of the latter, he believed, was in the Colegio de San Gregorio). This testimony establishes that the Alva and Chimalpain portion of the Sigüenza collection did not suffer serious loss as a result of Boturini's work. Nonetheless, the works listed by Clavigero were all formal histories of Mexico before and after the conquest, and did not include the Guadalupan documents. He did, however, see the ancient paintings that Alva had bequeathed to Sigüenza, and found "that they contained for the most part the penalties prescribed by the Mexica laws against certain offenses." (Francisco Javier Clavijero, Historia antigua de México, ed. Mariano Cuevas, Editorial Porrúa, 1958, v. I, pp. 31-32.)

When the Jesuits were expelled from the Spanish realm in 1767, the library of the Colegio de S. Pedro y S. Pablo was transferred to the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico. Clavigero, a Jesuit, went to Cesena, Italy, where he published his work under the title Storia antica del Messico in 1780. This publication renewed interest in the Boturini collection and other historical documents, especially as Juan Bautista Muñoz had recently been commissioned by Charles III to complete a history of the New World (begun by the Mexican historian Mariano Veytia, who died in 1779). Royal orders were issued in 1783 and 1784 to locate and make copies of the manuscripts listed by Clavigero, in order that their content may be preserved and included in the commissioned history. These documents were to be brought to Spain in warships.

The authorities in New Spain responded slowly to these directives, claiming in 1788 that they still could not find many of the documents mentioned by Clavigero. In 1790, a new order asked that they send copies of whatever indigenous histories they did find, regardless of whether they were in Clavijero's list.

Antonio de León y Gama (1735-1802), a meticulous scholar with published works in astronomy and archaeology (including his observations of the famous Aztec calendar stone), occupied a bureaucratic position in the government of New Spain that enabled him to compile a great collection of ancient manuscripts, including copies from the Boturini collection, as well as some originals. Correspondence between Antonio de León y Gama the exiled Jesuit Andrés de Cavo indicates that the Sigüenza collection in 1780 was in much the same state as Clavigero had found it in 1759. (Burrus, op. cit., p. 69) Cavo and León y Gama were concerned about precious Mexican source documents leaving the country, so the latter took measures to preserve as much as possible.

Being friends with University librarians, León y Gama was able to take out materials, and he kept a painter in his house for a year and a half to help him make copies. He considered himself most capable to correct the contradictions and errors in the source documents in constructing an accurate history (as contrasted with Veytia's history, which he found deficient). He could not afford the cost of such an endeavor, though he had written much. León y Gama's collection consisted mainly of copies of the Boturini collection, but he also acquired some original Nahuatl manuscripts. Among the many Boturini codices in his collection were those he named Codice Ixtlixóchitl, (Boturini, XXVIII, 5) and Codice Siguenza (Boturini VII, 6).

León y Gama never mentions seeing the Valeriano manuscript, though he wrote a detailed history of Guadalupe, and would certainly have been interested in such a document. In his letters to Cavo, he even asks for documents about the apparition. As Burrus comments, if León y Gama had found the Valeriano account in the University library, he could have removed it from the documents to be shipped to Spain, as he did with others in Nahuatl, which was unintelligible to the commissioners. (Burrus, op. cit., p. 78.)

Between the documents that were taken to Spain and those collected by León y Gama, there was no longer a complete Sigüenza collection in one place by 1790. When León y Gama died in 1802, his library was bequeathed to Father José Antonio Pichardo, who added more ancient documents to the collection, until his own death in 1812. In 1803, the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt came to Mexico and found that only an eighth of the Boturini collection remained in the official archive. Humboldt acquired some of León y Gama's materials that were put up for auction after his death; these can now be found in Berlin. The rest of León y Gama's collection was acquired in part by Joseph Marius Alexis Aubin, a French scholar and schoolteacher, in 1830. Aubin bought many antiquities from Gama's descendants, who evidently inherited the collection after Pichardo's death. The Aubin collection is now in the National Library of Paris virtually intact. This collection includes both originals and copies from the Sigüenza and Boturini collections.

In the nineteenth century, there was not much left of the Sigüenza collection in the University of Mexico (no longer "Royal and Pontifical" after the war of independence). The University declined in favor whenever the liberals ascended to power, and they shut it down for good in 1867, as it was a bastion of traditional Catholic scholarship. By then, most antiquities were stored in the new Museo Nacional de México, established in 1852. The Jesuit order was restored in Mexico in 1816, when only fifteen of them remained in their home country. They were suppressed due to a Spanish liberal revolution in 1820, and restored again in 1843, until the Mexican liberal constitutional convention suppressed the order in 1856, followed by the prohibition of all religious orders in the constitution of 1857. They never had much opportunity to rebuild their institutions of higher learning.

In 1847, U.S. Army General Winfield Scott sent to Washington many books and documents that had been confiscated from the Jesuits during the invasion of Mexico. According to the ecclesiastical historian Mariano Cuevas, SJ, the Mexican ambassador Luis de la Rosa saw the manuscripts in Washington in 1851, and protested to the U.S. government against the actions of General Scott, demanding the return of these documents. (Cuevas, Historia de la Iglesia en Mexico, v. I, 1921, p. 279.) Cuevas claims that these were manuscripts from the Sigüenza collection, but there is no documentation in support of this assertion, and we have already seen it is unlikely that the Jesuits possessed any significant portion of this collection at this point in time. Four boxes of materials were returned to Mexico in 1854, and their inventory does not include any Sigüenza documents. (Roscoe R. Hill, "The Odyssey of Some Mexican Records," Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 24, No. 1, Feb. 1944, pp. 39-60.) Moreover, judging from those listed in the inventory, these documents came from the treasurer's office (Procuraduría) of the Jesuit order, not from the University library. (Burrus, op. cit., p. 74.)

Another vast collection of indigenous antiquities, including many of the Sigüenza documents, was gathered by José Fernando Ramirez (1804-1871), who became head of the Museo nacional de México in 1852. When Maximilian I was executed by the Liberals in 1867, Ramirez, a supporter of the emperor, fled to Europe, taking many documents with him. He died in Bonn, Germany four years later, and after his death one lot of his manuscripts was shipped back to Mexico, where they ended up in libraries and private collections. The rest of his collection, amounting 1,280 items (an item could contain more than one book or manuscript), was auctioned in London in 1880. Items 379 and 380 of the auction's catalog listed five volumes of Guadalupan documents, which Ramirez had titled Monumentos guadalupanos. These were all acquired by the New York Public Library, where they remain to this day in the Manuscript Division. The first volume includes two ancient Nahuatl copies of the Guadalupe narrative, generally similar in content to Lasso de la Vega's Nican mopohua. There is strong reason to believe that one of these manuscripts is Valeriano's original narrative.

Continue to Part V


© 2011 Daniel J. Castellano. All rights reserved. http://www.arcaneknowledge.org

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