Talk:Luis Laso de la Vega

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Stub tag[edit]

I realize the article is short, but there is really no other information available on the man. According to Wikipedia, "a short article on a topic which has a very narrow scope may not be a stub." Would anyone consider this a reason to remove the stub tag? Rockero 19:13, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

If that's all the information that exists, I think leaving the stub tag in would be misleading.

I read pieces of the D.A. Brading book and his ending -- where he suddenly inverts that whole idea of de la Vega as the unloved, anti-Guadalupan author and reinvents the guy as channel for the "inspired text" -- made me all excited about de la Vega. I know that Brading said we know hardly anything about de la V., but am disappointed if this is really all there is!Katsam 08:19, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

Biographical information[edit]

My grasp of the sources is patchy at best, but something has gone wrong in the second paragraph of this section where it is reported that Lasso "rebuilt the first chapel there, which enclosed a local freshwater spring." Now, there is indeed a chapel built over a spring at the Villa, but this is the Capilla del Pocito which was not erected until 1791. So there are three errors here: (1) leaving aside for now whatever preceded it, (i) Archbishop Montúfar built the first proper church at Tepeyac in 1556 which was (ii) replaced by a new structure completed in 1622 by Archbishop Pérez de la Serna which in turn was (iii) replaced by the current Antigua Basílica erected between 1695 and 1709; (2) Lasso did not build or rebuild any chapel at Tepeyac; and (3) before 1791 the spring was not inside a chapel at all.

I guess the immediate source of the confusion might be Professor Brading who inexplicably writes of Lasso that he "had rebuilt the first chapel and surrounded the spring at the site with walls" (p. 81, citing Florencia "p.91"). This is partially correct, but Florencia nowhere says that Lasso rebuilt the chapel although he does say that Lasso covered over the spring and fixed it up to make it suitable for pilgrims to wash there, and that he arranged for beautiful pictures of the Virgin's apparitions to be painted on the walls (Estrella de el Norte de México, México, 1688 §12, fol.5r., where he adds the information that Lasso was a very zealous priest devoted to his duties and of upright character who, at the time of his death, was a most worthy prebend of the cathedral of México, [fol.5v.]). Florencia also confirms that the church extant in 1688 had been completed in 1622 (ibid., § 343, fol.184v., which puts paid to any idea that Lasso had a hand in it). Further on, Florencia says that Lasso embellished the church and altars and greatly promoted the cult and the reverence paid to the sacred image, and kept the sanctuary clean and well-lit (ibid. § 346, fol.186v.). That is it, so far as Florencia is concerned.Ridiculus mus (talk) 19:33, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Let me revisit my remarks about Lasso de la Vega's building works (which fully bear out my opening admission that my grasp of the sources is patchy). Although there is no reference to this passage in Florencia's index under "Lazo de la Vega", I now find this:- "Jazen sepultados sus cuerpos [of Juan bernadino and Juan Diego] en la primera iglesia que es oy la immediata a la casa de la vivienda, que reedificó el Licenciado Luis Lazo de la Vega"(cap. 18, n° 222, fol.110r). Did he mean that Lasso rebuilt the primera iglesia (as Brading thought) or "la casa de la vivienda"? At all events, Florencia is certainly saying that the first church was still standing in 1688 (so that Pérez de la Serna's church must have been built on a different site). I have yet to get to the bottom of the architectural history (in which few of the sources show any interest), but meanwhile I must withdraw - for now - my assertion of error (2) in the article, and my aspersions on Professor Brading's scholarship (although I could wish that he had cited Florencia by reference to the original folios, as Stafford Poole does).Ridiculus mus (talk) 13:45, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Apologies for taking three bites at this topic, but the situation appears to be this (all information taken from the official website "parroquia de Indios"):-
The oldest structure in the Villa precinct is the so-called "capilla de los Indios", said to date from around 1649 (making it Lasso's, so I whole-heartedly withdraw "error (2)" above). It is a stone building, and excavations in the sacristy reveal traces of the foundations of what are said to be (a) the original ermita of Juan Diego, and (b) the church built by Archbishop Montúfar (another adobe structure according to Francisco Miranda Gódinez, Dos cultos fundantes: los Remedios y Guadalupe, p. 353).
This being the case, it would still not be entirely correct to say "Lasso rebuilt the first church" since what he (apparently) did was build a new and rather larger stone structure on the site of what had been the first adobe church(es). The subsequent architectural history is irrelevant here, but it seems that the church dedicated by Archbishop Pérez de la Serna in 1622 was adjacent to and west of the capilla de los Indios and was later demolished and replaced by the Capuchin convent in 1787 (still standing, but an ex-convent since the Reform Laws of 1857, and reopened in 1996 after extensive renovations). The Antigua Basílica (built between 1695 and 1709 on a site west of Serna's church) still stands but was replaced in 1976 by the Nueva Basílica as the home of the tilma of Juan Diego. Ridiculus mus (talk) 19:58, 11 February 2011 (UTC)


The statements in the lede and in the section "Writings" do not reflect the state of the question. It is by no means generally accepted that Lasso wrote the Nican Mopohua, and the rival assessment - that the author of that part of the Huei tlamahuiçoltica was Antonio Valeriano - is by no means a fringe view confined to Mexican "ecclesiastical writers" (as some would have it). Edmundo O'Gorman (1986) and Miguel Léon-Portilla (2001), for example, subscribed to the Valeriano authorship (as did James Lockhart in 1992).

Nor are the conclusions arrived at by Sousa, Poole and Lockhart (1998) cast in concrete. Indeed, they characterize the results of their investigations as "provisional" (p.4). Their major conclusion is that the HT is a unitary work, and they took it for granted (as opposed to demonstrating) that Lasso was the author:- "We have seen here several different reasons to believe that Laso was strongly, directly involved in the writing" (p.44); and "The texts are surely compatible with the hypothesis of two writers, one doubtless Laso de la Vega and the other an indigenous aide" (p.46).

The subsidiary questions they examined (without coming to any hard and fast conclusions) were:-

(1) whether HT was a translation/ adaptation of Sánchez's Imagen or independent of it:- "Direct dependence cannot be strictly proved, but one can at least examine the two texts to see if such a relationship was possible, and how it could have worked" (p.8); and "It seems to us that the hypothesis that Laso de la Vega took the core of his book's material from Sánchez . . is the most likely of the possible explanations of its genesis"(p.17); and "We consider our conclusions on the relationship of the Huei tlamahuiçoltica and the Imagen more as indicated than as definitively established", p.18), and

(2) whether Lasso had any indigenous aides (probably, pp. 46f.).

Professor Brading (p. 360) has seriously over-interpreted their conclusions.Ridiculus mus (talk) 20:11, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Status as licenciado, and other data[edit]

In his preface de La Vega calls himself "bachiller"; as does the censor, Padre Balthasar González, in his opinion included in the front matter of Huei tlamahuiçoltica. Bartolache (Manifiesto satisfactorio, 1790, pp. 3-8) in discussing the authorship of Huei tlamahuiçoltica, twice dignifies him as "B[achille]r" (pp. 3, 7) and, incidentally invariably writes "Laso".

Brading (p. 81) accords him the title "Lic[enciado]." (perhaps following Doctor Don Pedro de Barrientos in his permission to publish, also included in the front matter of Huei tlamahuiçoltica) ; gives 1647 as the year when he was appointed vicar of the ermita at Tepeyac ; and states that he registered for a course in Canon Law at the University of Mexico in 1623. He adds that it was "his merits" that brought him promotion to the cathedral chapter in 1657. Brading offers no sources for any of these details, but quotes a portion of Florencia's eulogy (Estrella del Norte, p.91). From my own reading I can see that Florencia (cap. 16 §200) calls him "el Licenciado Luis Lazo [sic] de la Vega". Brading also observes in a footnote (n. 17) that Mateo de la Cruz also praised Luis in a work dated 1660 (incl. in Testimonios Historicos, 1982, pp. 268f.)

Poole (1995) says (p. 110) only that Laso [sic] was vicar of the eremita in 1648 and that he was appointed medio racionero at the cathedral chapter in 1657. In a footnote (35) Poole mentions that Ascensión León-Portilla says he studied at the University (presumably the source of Brading's own remark) and that he was fluent in Nahuatl in which he preached; but, Poole adds, AL-P gave no source for those statements which he (Poole) says he has not been able to corroborate.

Miranda Godínez Miranda (Dos Cultos Fundantes, 2001) writes "Laso" in the main text (p. 234) and "Lasso" in a footnote (p. 233, n.3). He calls him "bachiller" and attributes his appointment as vicar at Tepeyac to 1649 (p. 234).

Although it is true that in the front matter to Huei tlamahuiçoltica all three writers (including de la Vega himself) write "Lasso", all three also use the archaic form "Luys" for his Christian name. Modern writers in English do not follow them : Brading and Poole invariably write "Laso" in their works, as does Louise Burkhart (Before Guadalupe, 2001). The modern Mexican practice seems other (e.g., Francisco de la Maza, El guadalupanismo mexicano and Escalada Enciclopedia Guadalupana, vol. 3, to name no more).

On balance, it seems the preferred spelling for an English readership is "Laso" not "Lasso" ; and on the grounds of Luis's own self-description in his preface, "bachiller" must be recognised as his proper title. The date for the start of the incumbency of Tepeyac is, on this evidence, anyone's guess within the limits 1647 - January 1649. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ridiculus mus (talkcontribs) 11:10, 4 January 2014 (UTC)