The Auto de Fe of 1601, delivered in the largest open-air gathering space in colonial Mexico City, was the occasion when the Mexican Inquisition, the government, the official state-controlled Catholic Church, and the general population of Mexico City intersected.
Here, on Sunday, March 25, 1601, between 6:00am and until late in the afternoon, the ministers and officials of the Mexican Inquisition publically pronounced sentences against those they had judicially convicted as formal heretics.
Our challenge, therefore, is to re-imagine how these sermons and public sentences, as social and political as well as religious gatherings, functioned to bring together church, state, and people for punishment, instruction, inspiration, and the creation of a common identity formation.This grant project’s main goal is to develop a virtual research environment for study of the public performance of the Mexican Inquisition’s public celebrations of the Auto de Fe. The public ceremony known as the General Public Auto de Fe (auto de fe general) served as the most important public act conducted by the Inquisition in the New World, where the official presentation of convicted heretics occurred in conjunction with the public ceremonial reading of their crimes and sentences. The symbolic and spatial representations of these large public spectacles served to reinforce the religious policies of the Spanish Catholic Church, and highlight the punitive power of its chief judicial arm: the Spanish Inquisition.