“The Archbishop and the Virgin: Alonso de Montúfar and the Early Cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe”
Article published online in 2015 (but based on a chapter of my doctoral dissertation, defended in 2002).
In this article, I critically assess a number of documents related to the cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe at Tepeyac in the mid-sixteenth century. It seeks to counteract the many bad scholarly contributions on Guadalupe, published in both theologically “conservative” and “radical”/”contextual” circles.
It is, of course, interesting to study how Guadalupe has been interpreted throughout the ages and what role she plays today. Still, to establish facts about the origin of a cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe requires a very close assessment of the existing sources. There are so many farfetched interpretations of documents (and “silences”) that have been made into truths and there are even fabricated sources that support certain ideological views. Thus, a source critical study of a very traditional kind can do much good.
In the documents that without a doubt can be dated to Alonso de Montúfar’s time as archbishop of Mexico (1554-1572), I have not found any foundation for the story about Juan Diego and Bishop Zumárraga that, at least since the 1640s, has been associated with the cult. Still, there are indications that at least an outline of story of about the miraculous origin of the image and the direct imprint of the Virgin on an indigenous man’s cloak, was known by the 1610s or 1620s (but that will be the subject of another article)