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Project Objectives 


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.


The innovative use of digital technology in this project will focus on an multidisciplinary recreation of the setting, sounds, sights, and events related to the public celebration of one of the better documented general autos de fe in New Spain: the Auto de Fe General of 1601.
By combining the interdisciplinary skills of historians, costume designers, architectures, illustrators and computer programmers, this project proposes to use software for architectural modeling, acoustic simulation in combination with historical visual and textual primary source records as well as recent archaeological evidence in order to re-construct as best as possible, the setting, events, and public pageantry of this awe-inspiring event. 
Along with the three-dimensional architectural, spatial and processionary re-creation of the parades and pageantry of the auto de fe, the project will also integrate digital recordings of the central public sermon (sermon de la fe) and the presentation of the prisoners and their sentences performed in their original pronunciation in Spanish (along with a rendition in English) from various locations within the architectural platform and staging of this auto de fe which took place in the central plaza of Mexico City which will be re-created with three dimensional imaging technology as it appeared in 1601. 
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