From Conquest To Culture: The Aztecs And Catholicism

1221 words - 5 pages

In history, when two cultures meet, both are changed forever, especially in the case of conquest. Conquest is defined as the act of acquiring another state by force of arms. While conquests are numerous throughout world history, when a society takes over another, it is common for the resultant culture to be very different from the dominant culture’s way of life.
George Foster, an anthropologist from the University of California, says that two processes create the resultant culture after a conquest: formal processes and informal process. Formal processes are goals set by figures of power in order to alter or improve upon the conquered civilization. Informal processes are personal choices made ...view middle of the document...

Latin American Catholicism is significantly different from Roman Catholicism because of the synergistic relationship exhibited between the polytheistic religion of the Aztecs and the monotheistic Roman Catholicism of the Spanish.
The Aztec religion was a polytheistic and placed a significant emphasis on human sacrifice and the worship of multiple gods in extreme ways. In comparison to the Spanish, the Aztecs were very small in number, and were quickly defeated by the superior Spanish forces.
One of the clearest examples of a new, non-Roman version of Catholicism is the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which is written the Nican Mopohua. This text, which is written by Luis Laso de Vega, relates the Aztec goddess of fertility and mother of the people, Tonantzin, to the Virgin Mary. In the story, Juan Diego, a native of Cuautitlan, heard someone calling his name from the top of a hill. He walked towards the voice and saw a beautiful woman who revealed herself to be the Virgin Mary. She asked Diego to build him a temple. He left and headed to Mexico City where the Archbishop of Mexico asked him to have the Virgin prove her identity. In response, she healed Juan Diego's uncle then made out of season flowers bloom, which she Juan Diego to gather. He did and took them to the bishop who refused to see him. Once outsiders saw Diego's jacket filled with the beautiful flowers, they rushed to the bishop and pressured him to allow Juan Diego to be seen. When Juan Diego handed them to the bishop, the flowers revealed an image of The Virgin Mary. The bishop then believed Diego and demanded a temple be built and for people to worship the Virgin (Nican Mopohua).
When the Spaniards took over, missionaries dismissed Aztec stories. The Aztecs immediately clung to the Virgin of Guadalupe as a patron goddess, who had much appeal as a mothering type due to the similarities many fertility goddesses in Aztec culture, such as Tonantzin. Because the Virgin Mary’s temple is dedicated to “Tonantzin,” the Aztec goddess of fertility, the names became synonymous, mixing the Aztec goddess with the more modern Catholic version (Paz 1).
One of the main differing features of the new Aztec religion from traditional Catholicism is the Day of the Dead. This is a tradition that began in Mesoamerica long before Catholicism was brought over by the Spaniards. The holiday is celebrated October 31st and lasts three days. The Day of the Dead is very similar to the Christian holiday of All Souls Day. After priests arrived during the Spanish conquest, they forced the idea of All Souls Day on the Aztecs, but over time the Aztecs continued to celebrate the holiday as the Day of the...

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