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Audacia tan desmedida
Pues un Demonio la vida
Quito con furia infernal:
Al punto el Cielo en senal
Una palma hizo naeer,
Que quiso Virgen veneer
MARIA, siassise eslabona
La Palma con la Corona,
Por sena de su poder.

This second decima alludes, in the palm it mentions, to a
luminous Palm that may be seen on the painting as though in
the upper atmosphere ; for a tradition holds that a bright and
resplendent Palm appeared in the Heavens following the tre-
mendous punishment of the sacrilegious Attacker of this
most Holy Image.

The blow of the macana, for having been dealt less with
blind anger and impetuousness than by a deliberate villainy
impelled by mad fury, should have been enough to destroy the
harmonious beauty of its Face. 25 Without in any way dam-
aging its beauty, it only left a mark like that of a wound,
though not deep, on the upper part of the forehead. And al-
though at some time every effort was made to erase that
mark for the completeness and beauty of the Image by filling
in the cut and painting it over, its obliteration has never suc-
ceeded. For the red undersizing does not come together, and
it is cast off by the more ancient, so that the mark remains
patently visible ; and this, in order to show in every way that
this Holy Image is to be set apart for an especial veneration. 26

Toward the end of the past century of 1600, various copies
and portraits of this Holy Image having remained in the


Kingdom of New Mexico, it was brought from the Custody
to this Province with the pious motive, we may presume, of
not being left exposed to similar impieties, and so that it may
enjoy greater veneration. 27 Recently it was transferred from
the Convent of Tlalnepantla, where the Friars had kept it, 28
to this Convent of Mexico, through the liberal and gratuitous
donation to the Friars of this Treasure by the Most Illustrious
Lord Doctor, Don Manuel Rubio y Salinas, Archbishop of this
Holy Metropolitan Church by his Decree given on Novem-
ber 27, 1754, upon the humble petition of the Province, after
her Friars were deprived of the administration and doctrine
of Tlalnepantla. The Holy Image was received in this Con-
vent with the especial joy, consolation, and happiness of the
Friars, and the singular appreciation of the Province, which
so desired it. Omnia desiderabilia efus, thus was the Ark of
the Testament called among the People of God, the presence of
which overwhelmed with happiness the family of Abinadab,
and filled with blessings that of Obededon, the whole City
itself partaking also of its benefits and graces : and what I
might call the total desire of this Province is this Sacred Ark,
this Image of most pure Mary, in which we promise ourselves
the grace of her mercies ; and so to implore it, it was placed
for nine days in the principal Church of this Convent, ex-
posed to public veneration. Nine Masses were sung in its
honor with all the solemnity possible to the weak resources
of a poor family. A Novena was prayed to her Patronage,
her Litany of Loreto was sung every day, and on the ninth,
which was January 26, 1755, 29 it was installed, following a
solemn Procession, in the Chapel of the Holy Novitiate. 30

One must not pass in silence an incident which took place
during the above-mentioned Procession. The tongue of a bell
which was being rung by complete somersaults, and which
faced the courtyard where the Procession was gathered, fell
among a numerous concourse of people without hurting a
single Person. The incident was considered so profound that
the multitudes gave tongue 31 to the praises and glories of Our
Lady, to whom all the ones due her be rendered throughout
the world. Amen.


Thus far the brief history of La Macana by Fray Felipe
Montalvo. To me, its quaint fantasy loses none of its charm
after its elements of strange wonder have been pinned down
onto historical facts. On the contrary, this dovetailing of lore
and fact enhances the value of the legend as it adds to our
store of historical knowledge. It also illustrates an old conten-
tion of mine, that folklore and history need not be inimical
or contradictory, that genuine folklore is the poetry of his-
tory. And, as stated in the beginning, we might have to revise
our picture of the great Rebellion of 1680 considerably, par-
ticularly with regard to the mind behind it all.

History itself hints that Pope, the San Juan leader, who
is credited with the success of the uprising, was a rather weak
character and none too popular with his people, to have united
the various pueblos which were divided not only by language
but by age-old enmities. Such a planner and instigator had
to be a real genius, both as to his personality and his back-
ground of knowledge. Factual historical hints overlooked by
Otermin and his captains in those crucial times, and now the
subconscious recollections of the common people as preserved
for us in a legend, point to that genius in the person of the
black teniente of Po-he-yemu with his big yellow eyes ; and he
appears to be none other than the mulatto, Diego Naranjo,
who himself had planned the Pope hoax to fool Otermin and
his men and, consequently, all succeeding historians who
depended on the autos of Otermin. (This solution is only a
theory, of course, and offered here tentatively; students of
history are free to weigh its supporting facts and their con-
clusions for what they are worth.)

As for the Macana statue itself, it likewise merits atten-
tion, for having survived and preserved its identity "so far
away from home," and for such a long time, when similar
objects have disappeared or else become anonymous in the
turmoil of social and political change and especially those
violent upheavals which have marked the Republic of Mexico
since its birth. The very fact that the Montalvo work was
reprinted several times, and as late as 1788, attests to the
statue's enduring popularity in colonial New Spain. 32 We


read in the life of the Venerable Fray Antonio Margil, that
indefatigable missionary whose sandals ranged from Panama
all the way to Texas and Louisiana, and who died in the Con-
vento Grande in 1726, that his body was disinterred in 1788
as part of the process looking toward his canonization ; his
remains lay in state prior to re-burial in the Chapel of Our
Lady of La Macana, which at that time opened on the landing
of the principal staircase of the Convento Grande. 33

But even after the birth of the Mexican Republic in 1821,
by no means anti-religious in its early decades, the Macana
shrine was still well known. In his Ojeada of 1832 Barreiro
mentions it as still appreciated in Mexico City. It was not
until 1856-1861, when the Mexican republican government
had been taken over completely by a European-type free-
masonry, when churches and convents were "exclaustrated"
(as Mexican officialdom calls confiscation) , that the Macana
shrine came to an inglorious end. The great sprawling build-
ings and courtyards of the Convento Grande were cut up into
blocks and intersecting streets, when the chapel of the noviti-
ate disappeared. This marked the disappearance also of that
interesting mural described by Montalvo, which archaeologist
Obregon tells me he has not been able to trace. The famed
little statue, however, appears later in the church of San
Francisco, the main church of the Convento Grande. Garcia
Cubas in 1904, from childhood recollections of the ancient
monuments of his beloved city, describes the high altar of San
Francisco as it looked sometime before or after 1861 : "In the
lower part of the Tabernacle was a niche with the image of
Our Lady of La Macana, dressed in silk and her head adorned
with a golden crown ; she had in her arms the Divine Infant,
and a little macana of silver, shaped like the swords of the
ancient warriors." 34

The ancient friary church of San Francisco, the mother
church of all parish churches on both American continents,
was converted to other uses by the Mexican government, 35
but it would take further study to ascertain when the Macana
statue was removed to the church of Corpus Christi, where
Garcia Cubas said it reposed in 1904. 36 This church also ceased
to be a house of worship in more recent times, presumably


during the violently anti-Catholic regime of Calles (1926-
1927), and it is now the Museo Nacional de Artes Indus-
triales y Populares. Don Gonzalo Obregon informs me that
the image passed on to the old friary church of San Diego,
but he cannot ascertain when it happened or how long the
statue remained there. Then it disappeared from San Diego,
to be found later on in a house of (clandestine) Franciscan
sisters in Coyoacan, near the southern limits of Mexico City.
From here it was restored to San Francisco del Convento
Grande by order of Fr. Fidel Chauvet, the father provincial
of the Holy Gospel province ; it was located for the time be-
ing (1956) in the sacristy of the Valvanera chapel of the
venerable church. 37

As these contemporary bits of information and the 1957
Chanf reau photograph attest, the little Lady of La Macana,
formerly of Toledo, while heretofore but barely known by
name to a few in her native land of New Mexico, still refuses
to be forgotten in the Metropolis of the Aztecs and the Vice-
roys and the revolutionary Presidents. On the other hand, her
reconstructed story provides New Mexico with a fresh re-ap-
praisal of one of the most crucial episodes in her long and
colorful history. Incidentally, I have finished writing the
Macana story at greater length in fictional form, as seen
through the eyes of the High Sheriff's Daughter and the Black
God of Po-he-yemu, in the hope that it will make interesting
reading for a wider audience, if the book happens to find a
willing publisher one of these days.


1. Gonzalo Obregon, Letter, Museo Nacional de Historia, Mexico City, Nov. 10, 1956.
Senor Obregon, an expert on Mexican iconography, took these measurements for me. But
he believes that the image represents the Immaculate Conception because of the hands
folded before the breast, and that it cannot then be an exact copy of Nuestra Senora del
Sagrario de Toledo as Garcia Cubas claimed ; see the latter's description of 1904 infra.
The Virgin of Toledo, Don Gonzalo goes on to say, is an ancient romanic statue showing
the Virgin in a seated posture and carrying the Infant on one arm. But here I beg to
differ with Don Gonzalo on all points. I myself saw the original Toledo Madonna in the
cathedral shrine of that city ; this famed Virgin appeared to be standing because of the
dress and mantle with which it always is clothed, and there was no Infant in her arms ;
and the empty hands were folded in front of the breast. Jose Augusto Sanchez Perez,
El Culto Mariano en Espana (Madrid, 1948), illustrates his history of the Toledo Virgin
with pictures of the unclothed romanic figure, which is seated, and also as it appears


clothed in the shrine ; some pictures show it holding the detachable figure of the Infant,
others show it without the Christ Child ; see note 9 infra. Therefore, a replica or copy in
media tatta, and then dressed, could legitimately represent the Toledo figure as it is seen
by the public ; and it could hold an Infant, or simply the bare hands folded before the
breast, see note 34 infra.

2. Antonio Barreiro, Ojeada Sobre el Nuevo Mexico (Puebla, 1832), translated and
edited by L. B. Bloom in NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW, III, 75-96, 145-178. The trans-
lation in the Carroll and Haggard edition of Three New Mexico Chronicles, made from
Escudero's edition of Barreiro, does not carry the Macana item, as noted ibid., 159.

3. W. W. H. Davis, The Spanish Conquest of New Mexico (Doylestown, Pa., 1869),


5. H. H. Bancroft, History of New Mexico and Arizona (San Francisco 1889), 195n.
This one-page manuscript, title by a different hand "Sobre la Imagen de la Macana," was
numbered as Number 10 in a group entitled "Papeles de Jesuitaa." It is by no means a
Jesuit paper since it was written by a Franciscan residing in the Convento Grande of
San Francisco in Mexico City, and at the very time Fray Felipe Montalvo was having
his history of La Macana printed. At first it appears like a draft by Montalvo, but the
spelling of "Maquana" and other radical variations point to a different author; these
differences are pointed out as we go along.

miama Sacratissima Imagen./ DISPUESTA DE ORDEN SUPERIOR,/ Por el R.P. FT.
Phelipe Montalvo,/ Commissario Visitador de el Tercer/ Orden Seraphico de dicha
Ciudad./ CON LICENCIA EN MEXICO:/ En la Imprenta del Nuevo Rezado de los/
Herederos de Dona Maria de Rivera;/ en el Empedraditto. Ano de 1755. A preceding
title, probably the paper cover, has a wood engraving of the image with this legend
beneath: V. R. de N. So. de la Macana que se Va. en el Conv. to de Francisc.a de
Tlolnepantla (this last word is erased partially and Mex. printed over it by hand; then
Sylverio,S unfinished or partly rubbed out). This correction, and some lack of correction
throughout the text, show that the work was written at Tlalnepantla, and that parts of
it had already been set in type, when the statue was transferred to Mexico City toward
the end of 1754. The first lead to Montalvo's work was found in Eleanor B. Adams,
A Bio-btbliography of Franciscan Authors in Central America (Washington, 1953), 57,
which notes that it was reprinted in 1755, 1761, 1762, 1788. Miss Adams luckily procured
a photo copy from the Biblioteca Nacional, Santiago de Chile; it now reposes in the
Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe : 1755, no. 3.

7. Adams, op. eit., notes three printed sermons of his: one on St. Clare for the
Franciscan Nuns of the Court, 1748 ; another on St. Dominic for the Dominican friars,
1760 ; and the third for the dedication of the Hospital of Franciscan Tertiaries, 1761.
Montalvo also taught theology and was a censor for the Holy Office.

8. A Fray Bernardo de Alvarez Morales, of Rebollar de Villaviciosa, published among
other works, Lustro primero del Pulpito consagrado a las gloriosas fatigas de Maria Sma.
(Salamanca, 1692). Cejador y Frauca, Lengua y Literatura Castellana (Madrid, 1916),
V, 800.

9. El Sagrario is a special chapel in cathedrals where the Eucharist is reserved. In
Spanish cathedrals it also serves as the parish church of the faithful living in the
vicinity, since the main cathedral is the mother church of the entire diocese. Toledo's
Sagrario Virgin is said to date from the first century, having been brought there
from Rome by St. Eugene, first bishop of Toledo. Since the image took part in the city's
long history under Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and Spaniards, it has a national as well as
a religious significance. It is a carved seated figure of wood, its contours having been
covered with silver sheets following the discovery of America. The Infant is detachable.
Since the figure is always dressed in a conical dress and mantle according to very old
Spanish fashion, it appears to be standing; old engravings and modern photographs
show it with or without the Infant. Sanchez Perez, Culto Mariano, see note 1 supra.


A charming but little known masterpiece of Toledo's great master, El Greco, shows this
statue with St. Ildefonso, Archbishop of Toledo (659-668) ; legend holds that the Virgin
Mary herself appeared to this saint to invest him with a chasuble, and in doing so she
touched the famed statue with her person. The painting now hangs in the hospital of
Illescas near Toledo.

10. Fray Agustin Carri6n Ponce y Molina was a Franciscan writer who published
his Sermones varios de festividades de N. S.a y Santos, Toledo, 1654, 1660. Cejador y
Frauca, op. cit., V, 214. Perhaps Montalvo, if not Carrion himself, telescoped the
miracle of the rain with that of St. Ildefonso in the foregoing note.

11. The Custody of the Conversion of St. Paul in New Mexico was a filial body of
the Franciscan Province of the Holy Gospel, which had its headquarters at El Convento
Grande de San Francisco in Mexico City.

12. Montalvo and the anonymous author of the Bancroft MS have hazy and erroneous
ideas about the founding of the New Mexico colony and missions. Had they consulted
the Viceroy's archives nearby, they could have made use of the original Onate reports,
ably edited in our times by George P. Hammond in his two-volume Don Juan de Onate,
Colonizer of New Mexico, 1595-1628 (Albuquerque, 1953). Or a careful systematic search
in their own friary's archive might have thrown considerable light on the pioneer
missionaries who went with Onate. The Bancroft MS states, and Montalvo implies it,
that a group of friars from Spain went directly to New Mexico with the image, but
when they went or who they were he cannot say, because documents are lacking due to
the hardships of those times and the scarcity of paper. But we now know that no friars
ever went to New Mexico directly from Spain ; some of those pioneers were natives of
different parts of Spain while others were Creoles of New Spain, and all were processed
through headquarters of the Holy Gospel in Mexico City. That the statue belonged to the
Franciscan missions, or to the colony as a whole, is belied by what follows.

13. Vetancurt's work was printed in Mexico City, 1697, 1698 ; it was reprinted in
four volumes, Biblioteca Historica de la Iberia (Mexico, 1870-71). Vetancurt says that he
got the item of the miraculous cure and prophecy from a letter written to a friar of
the Convento Grande by Fray Jose de Trujillo, the missionary of the Moqui pueblo of
Xongopavi in that year of 1674 ; in his sketch of Father Trujillo, Vetancurt says that
this friar had sought martyrdom in Japan, but was told by a holy nun in Manila that he
would find it in New Mexico. Some forty years later, the aged Father Trujillo attained
his goal in the catastrophe which was foretold, for he was martyred at Xongopavi on
August 10, 1680. The Bancroft MS does not relate this item of the crippled girl and the
prophecy. As Montalvo says, he got it from Vetancurt, although his supposedly direct
quotation varies somewhat because of a comma : Sets anos antes (habla de la rebelion de
loa Indios) una Nina de diez anos, hija del Alguacil Mayor, que estaba con graves dolores,
tuUida se encomend6 . . . This is Vetancurt's account : Seis anos antes, una nina de diez
(hija del alguacil mayor que estaba con graves dolores tuUida) se encomendo a una
imdgen de nuestra Senora del Sagrario de Toledo que tenia presente, y subitamente ae
hallo sana; y admirando el milagro, dijo que la Virgen le habia dicho: "Nina, levdntate
V di que esta Custodia presto se verd destruida por la poca reverencia que a -mis sacer-
dotes se tiene, y que este milagro sera el testimonio de esta verdad; que ae enmienden de
la culpa, si no quieren experimentar el castigo." And he promptly adds : Publicose el
caso, y cantose una misa con sermon, presente la nina. Quemaron causas y pleitos que
permanecian contra los sacerdotes en el archivo. Op. cit., 276-81. This same item is re-
ferred to in different words in Biblioteca Nacional, Mexico, leg. 69, expediente 8, foja 2v.

14. The term tuUida implies a crippling from disease, not from some external acci-
dent, and in a child it suggests the results of polio or rheumatic fever. Now, this invalid
girl had the statue in her presence, in her sick-room. This shows that it was a household
santo, and not mission property. Such a tiny and relatively inexpensive copy was evi-
dently a family heirloom ; as a copy of a specific Madonna, if we keep in mind the custom
of the times, it must then have come to New Mexico with a Toledo family. Now, there
was only one such family in Onate's colony, and none such came thereafter. It was
the family of Pedro Robledo and Catalina Lopez with their four soldier-sons and two
daughters ; this included Bartolome Romero, a native of a village near Toledo, who waa
married to their elder daughter Luisa. See Fray Angelico Chavez, Origins of New Mexico


Families in the Spanish Colonial Period (Santa Fe, 1954), 93-94, 95-98. The nameless
crippled girl had to be a great-grandchild of one of the children of Pedro Robledo, but
who was she ?

Pedro Robledo died when the colony was entering New Mexico in 1598, and some
years later his widow returned to New Spain with her three Robledo sons, one of the
four having died in a dramatic fall off the cliff of Acoma. The two daughters remained
with their husbands, the younger one having married a Tapia who eventually moved
down to the Rio Abajo. But Luisa Robledo and Bartolome Romero stayed on in Santa Fe,
the capital and only Spanish town in that first century. By 1674, the year of the miracle
and prophecy, their many grandchildren were numbered among the Gomez Robledos,
some of the Luceros de Godoy, and the several Romeros of Santa Fe. The various adult
male members of these families generally took turns at being major officials of the
Kingdom of New Mexico, including the office of high sheriff. But which one was high
sheriff in 1674?

The closest we can get is Bartolome Romero III, the eldest son of an eldest son.
He was high sheriff in 1669, according to Fray Juan Bernal, as also a sargento mayor
and a Spaniard of excellent qualities (Archive General de la Nation, Mexico, Inquisition,
t. 666, f. 5S2). Actually, there are no documents for 1674 and the years just before and
after, a phenomenon noted by France V. Scholes in his conclusion to Troublous Times
in New Mexico, 1659-1670 (Santa Fe, 1942), 245-58, where he cites Vetancurt's version
of the miracle. As Vetancurt wrote: "The news was published abroad, and a Mass was
sung with a sermon, the girl being present. They burned complaints and lawsuits against
the priests which had been filed in the archive." There is no reason to doubt that this
is the cause for such an abrupt dearth in documents at this very time. Whether or not
the miracle is admitted as such, or only as an instance of illusion and faith-healing,
the fact itself cannot be denied. Anyway, we can assume that Romero continued in office
for the next five years, and that his crippled daughter was a "Maria Romero." But even
if Bartolome Romero III was not the high sheriff at the exact time of the miracle, we
can still take our pick among the many contemporary female first cousins in the Gomez
Robledo, Lucero, and other Romero families. It does not alter the singular Toledo deriva-
tion of the heroine's family.

15. Montalvo's summary of the 1680 Rebellion is correct, and the one in the Bancroft
MS which is similar, as is graphically evident throughout the annals of the Rebellion as
edited in Hackett and Shelby, Revolt of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, etc. (Albu-
querque, 1942). But there is irony in the fact that the predicted destruction of the
kingdom and custody (the terms were used interchangeably by friars and colonists)
came about through the people's efforts to "make amends" and co-operate with the
missionaries. The chief cause of their "poor regard" for their priests, ever since the
founding of the missions and the colony, was the question of Indian idolatry; see the
Scholes work just cited and his Church and State in New Mexico, 1610-1650 (Santa Fe,
1937). The Franciscans wanted the estufas and cachinas completely abolished, if the
pueblos were to be truly converted to Christianity ; some Spanish governors and major
officials had opposed the friars on principle, or when bribed by the medicinemen. After
the miracle, the officials proceeded to suppress the pagan customs of the pueblos, and
these then arose in concerted rebellion.

16. This infernal giant is the really fantastic feature of the Macana legend. But if
we read carefully through the autos of Otermin in Hackett's Revolt, we find the Indians
continually referring to the instigator of the Rebellion as the teniente, or executive, of
the great spirit Po-he-yemu ; he was a black giant with yellow eyes. The Spaniards
dismissed it as pure myth ; it so angered Otermin that he had 47 prisoners shot for
insisting on this story, instead of revealing a real human instigator. But to me this

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