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The Franciscans in Mexico: Five Centuries of Cultural Influence

October 13-14, 2017
Mexican Cultural Institute, Washington, D.C.
A Program of the Early Americas Working Group of Washington, D.C.

Generations of scholars have studied the multi-faceted experiences of the Franciscans in Mexico and the ways in which the Franciscan order shaped New Spain and the early Mexican republic. This conference examines the range of Franciscan influence and analyzes new scholarship that focuses on the multiple discourses with which friars engaged native peoples, creole populations, the vice-regal authorities, and other actors throughout the Spanish empire. The conference brings together junior and senior scholars to study the long Franciscan experience in Mexico on the eve of the commemoration of the quincentenary of the Spanish— and thus the Franciscan—presence in Mexico.

The conference further honors the work of the eminent historian Fr. Francisco Morales, OFM, on the occasion of his eightieth birthday in September 2017. Morales’s studies of theFranciscans in Mexico and his promotion of the field have encouraged the work of several generations of historians of colonial and nineteenth-century Mexico. With this in mind, our program includes scholars whose research applies the methodologies of linguistic, social, and cultural history to the study of Nahua-Franciscan relations. Morales was one of the pioneers of this interdisciplinary approach during his years as a scholar at the Academy of American Franciscan History and in subsequent years as director of the Biblioteca Franciscana in San Pedro Cholula, Mexico (the library is housed in the Convento de San Gabriel, one of the first Franciscan churches in Mexico).

Conference Program

All sessions are free of charge and open to the public.

Conference site

Mexican Cultural Institute
2829 16th St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Phone: (202) 728-1628


Thomas M. Cohen, The Catholic University of America
Jay T. Harrison, Hood College
David Rex Galindo, Max Planck Institute for European Legal History

Keynote Speaker:

Jaime Lara, Arizona State University


Pedro Ángeles Jiménez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Rose Marie Beebe, Santa Clara University
Steven W. Hackel, University of California, Riverside
Hilaire Kallendorf, Texas A&M University
Kristin Dutcher Mann, University of Arkansas, Little Rock
Karen Melvin, Bates College
Verónica Murillo Gallegos, Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas
Manuel Ramos Medina, Centro de Estudios de Historia de México CARSO, Mexico City
Mathew Restall, Pennsylvania State University
Robert Senkewicz, Santa Clara University
Cecilia Sheridan, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Unidad Noreste, Monterrey
José Refugio de la Torre Curiel, Universidad de Guadalajara/Colegio de Jalisco
Jonathan Truitt, Central Michigan University

Major Sponsors:

Jay I. Kislak Foundation
Academy of American Franciscan History

Institutional Sponsors:

Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, College of William and Mary
Shirley Connor Hardinge Center for Global and International Studies, Hood College
Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University


Early Americas Working Group of Washington, D.C.
Mexican Cultural Institute, Washington, D.C.
Library of Congress
National History Center, American Historical Association

Friday, October 13:

10-12 Tour of Library of Congress (participating scholars and organizers)

2:45: Welcome and Introduction

3-4:30 Session 1: Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Theology
Chair: Nelson Minnich, The Catholic University of America Hilaire Kallendorf, “Visions in the Service of Virtue: Rhetorical Mysticism in Motolinía’s Memoriales” Verónica Murillo Gallegos, “El pensamiento franciscano entre España y Nueva España. Temas, problemas y autores del siglo XVI” José Refugio de la Torre Curiel, “De la celebración al retraimiento: cambios en el discurso sobre el martirio de los misioneros franciscanos en el centro y norte de la Nueva España, siglos XVI-XIX”

5-6 Keynote Address: Jaime Lara, “The Friars’ Mosques: The Franciscan Architectural Imagination in Jerusalem and Cholula”

6-7 Reception

Saturday, October 14:

  • 9:30-11 Session 2: Pastoral Ideals and Practices
    Chair: Jeffrey Burns, Academy of American Franciscan History
    Rose Marie Beebe and Robert Senkewicz, “The Franciscan Missionary Experience in Baja California”
    Steven W. Hackel, “The Missions of the Sierra Gorda before Serra: 1600 to 1750”
    Karen Melvin, “Tierra Santa in New Spain: Franciscans, alms, and the santos lugares de Jerusalén”

  • 11:30-1 Session 3: Franciscans as Cultural and Religious Intermediaries
    Chair: Emanuele Colombo, DePaul University Matthew Restall, “The Landa Conundrum” Cecilia Sheridan, “Mediadores de la interculturalidad: la mirada misionera sobre los otros en el contexto de la evangelización franciscana en los espacios fronterizos novohispanos” Jonathan Truitt, “Franciscans, Nahuas, and the Games They Played”

  • 1-2:30 Lunch

  • 2:30-4 Session 4: Art, Music, and Spirituality
    Chair: Arthur Dunkelman, Jay I. Kislak Foundation Pedro Ángeles Jiménez, “Franciscanism, art and history in New Spain and Mexico” Kristin Dutcher Mann, “Marking Time & Space: Bells in the Missions of Northern New Spain” Manuel Ramos Medina, “Fundación de la Orden Tercera de los Siervos de María Santísima de los Dolores”

  • 4-4:30 Closing Remarks