Domingo de Vico

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Domingo de Vico was a Spanish Dominican friar during the Spanish conquest of Chiapas and the conquest of Guatemala in the 16th century. He was originally from Jaén.[1] Chronicler Antonio de Remesal recorded that de Vico studied theology in Úbeda and finished his studies in the San Esteban convent in Salamanca.[2]

Domingo de Vico set out from Spain on 9 July 1544 with a group led by Bartolomé de las Casas in an effort to enforce the New Laws that had been issued in 1542 to protect the indigenous inhabitants of the Spanish colonies from overexploitation by the encomenderos.[3] De Vico was the prior of Cobán from 1554 until his death in 1555.[4] He was charged with the evangelisation of the Lakandon and Acala Ch'ol in the unconquered area that was then referred to by the Spanish as the Tierra de Guerra ("Land of War"),[5] and also as Verapaz.[4]


In 1544, Francisco Marroquín, bishop of Guatemala, charged Domingo de Vico with producing a treatise upon Indian idolatry. The work contained instructions to Dominicans upon how to use indigenous beliefs in their sermons in Chiapas and Guatemala. It was entitled Tratado de ídolos ("Treatment of Idols").[6] His best known written work is his Theologia Indorum, of which eleven copies survive, divided between the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris (5 copies) and the Firestone Library of Princeton University, New Jersey (6 copies).[7] Among the copies in France are translations made in the Tzutuhil, K'iche' and Kaqchikel languages.[8] During his short time in Guatemala before his death, he is believed to have compiled the Vocabulario de la lengua cakchiquel ("Vocabulary of the Kaqchikel language").[2] De Vico learnt the Ch’ol language and was able to preach to the Lakandon and Acala in their own language.[9]

De Vico wrote some religious poems in Kaqchikel upon the Acts of the Apostles and the Passion of Christ. A work entitled Los Proverbios de Salomón, las Epístolas y los Evangelios de todo el año, en lengua mexicana ("The Proverbs of Solomon, the Epistles and Gospels for the whole year, in the Mexican tongue") was prevented from being published by the Spanish Inquisition.[4]


In 1555, Domingo de Vico and his companion Andrés López were killed by the Acala and their Lakandon allies.[10] De Vico, who had established a small missionary church in San Marcos (in what is now Alta Verapaz, Guatemala), had offended the local Maya ruler by repeatedly scolding him for taking several wives.[11] The indigenous leader shot the friar through the throat with an arrow; the angry natives then sacrificed him by cutting open his chest and extracting his heart. His corpse was then decapitated;[12] the natives carried off his head as a trophy, which was never recovered by the Spanish.[13] In retaliation, the Spanish rounded up 260 Ch'ol in 1559, hanged 80 and branded the rest as slaves.[9]


  1. ^ Hernández 2008, p. 67.
  2. ^ a b Hernández 2008, p. 69.
  3. ^ Gómez Coutiño 2014, pp. 18, 18n8.
  4. ^ a b c García Ahumada 1994, p. 222.
  5. ^ Gómez Coutiño 2014, p. 23; Thompson 1966, p. 29.
  6. ^ Megged 1995, p. 68.
  7. ^ Acuña 1985, p. 283.
  8. ^ Acuña 1985, p. 284.
  9. ^ a b Thompson 1966, p. 29.
  10. ^ Caso Barrera & Aliphat 2007, p. 53.
  11. ^ Salazar 2000, pp. 38, 52; ITMB 1998.
  12. ^ Salazar 2000, p. 39.
  13. ^ Salazar 2000, p. 35.


Acuña, René (1985). "La theologia indorum de fray Domingo de Vico" (PDF). Tlalocan (in Spanish). Mexico City, Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas. 10: 281–307. ISSN 0185-0989. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-12-20.
Caso Barrera, Laura; Mario Aliphat (2007). "Relaciones de Verapaz y las Tierras Bajas Mayas Centrales en el siglo XVII" (PDF). XX Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2006 (edited by J.P. Laporte, B. Arroyo and H. Mejía) (in Spanish). Guatemala City, Guatemala: Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología: 48–58. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
García Ahumada, Enrique (1994). "La inculturación en la catequesis inicial de América" (PDF). Anuario de historia de la Iglesia (in Spanish). Pamplona, Spain: Instituto de Historia de la Iglesia, Facultad de Teología, Universidad de Navarra. 3: 215–232. ISSN 1133-0104. OCLC 810026548.
Gómez Coutiño, José Francisco (2014). Los dominicos en Chiapas y la construcción de la catedral de San Cristóbal de las Casas (in Spanish). Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico: Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas (UNACH). ISBN 978-607-8363-17-9. Retrieved 2014-11-05.
Hernández, Esther (2008). "Indigenismos en el Vocabulario de la Lengua Cakchiquel Atribuido a Fray Domingo de Vico, MS. BNF R. 7507" (PDF). Revista de Filología Española (in Spanish). LXXXVIII (1): 67–88. doi:10.3989/rfe.2008.v88.i1.45. ISSN 0210-9174. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
Guatemala (Map) (3rd ed.). 1:500000. International Travel Maps. ITMB Publishing Ltd. 1998. ISBN 0-921463-64-2. OCLC 421536238.
Megged, Amos (August 1995). ""Right from the Heart": Indians' Idolatry in Mendicant Preachings in Sixteenth-Century Mesoamerica". History of Religions. The University of Chicago Press. 35 (1, Mesoamerican Religions. A Special Issue on the Occasion of the Seventeenth International Congress of the History of Religions, Mexico City, August 5–12, 1995): 61–82. doi:10.1086/463407. JSTOR 1063010. (subscription required)
Salazar, Gabriel (2000) [1620]. "Geography of the Lowlands: Gabriel Salazar, 1620". In Lawrence H. Feldman. Lost Shores, Forgotten Peoples: Spanish Explorations of the South East Maya Lowlands. Durham, North Carolina, US: Duke University Press. pp. 21–54. ISBN 0-8223-2624-8. OCLC 254438823.
Thompson, J. Eric S. (1966). "The Maya Central Area at the Spanish Conquest and Later: A Problem in Demography". Proceedings of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1966): 23–37. JSTOR 3031712. (subscription required)

External links[edit]

  • Digital copy of Domingo de Vico's Latin and K'iche' text Teologia Indorum at Princeton University Digital Library.