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John F. Chuchiak IV, Ph.D.

212 University Hall
Honors College
Missouri State University
Springfield, Missouri  65897
(417) 836-4852
(417) 836-6370
(417) 836-6372
JohnChuchiak@missouristate.edu

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The Purpose of the Auto de Fe.

 

The Inquisition and the secular authorities in New Spain publicly administered all definitive sentences at a formal function called an auto-da-fé, most often held on a particular Sunday.

 

The Inquisition celebrated its "act of faith" with great pomp and ceremony, in the only public action in an otherwise secret tribunal.

 

The Inquisition held these acts of faith in a large plaza and required all of the secular and ecclesiastical officials and the general populace to attend.

 

The purpose of the gathering was to observe the procession of penanced, reconciled, and relaxed heretics and hear the announcement of the verdict of their individual sentences.

 

Although the reading of the convicted heretics' sentences remained the main attraction, many other activities occurred at an auto-da-fé. Together, they served to manifest the power of the Catholic religion and to reinforce religious orthodoxy.