Christianizing the Nahua

Confesionario breve

Alonso de Molina
Confesionario breve
Mexico: Antonio de Espinoza, 1565

The Catholic practice of confession had strong parallels with the indigenous practice of neiolmelaoaliztli, a cleansing ritual that involved recitation of transgressions, self-sacrifice, and offerings to the goddess of filth, Tlazoteotl. This posed a great challenge for the friars who needed to clarify distinctions between the two. However, it was nearly impossible to avoid confusions of this sort when teaching Christian doctrine and practice. In the end, many friars ignored the religious meanings implied in indigenous religious practices.

Father Molina’s Confesionario breve shows how writing a Nahuatl-language confessionary was a subtle art involving both linguistic translation and cultural interpretation.

Newberry Library: Vault Ayer 871 .A955 C35 M7 1565

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