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Our Lady (The Virgin) of Guadalupe

I’m writing a book, Niños Héroes: The Fascinating Stores Behind Mexican Street Names. Here’s a short selection:

She is “La Morenita,” the brown lady.

According to Catholic lore, the Virgin Mary first appeared to a peasant in the small town of Guadalupe, Spain, in…


Marcos Castellanos

It might seem shocking that Catholic priests like Miguel Hidalgo and José María Morelos led a violent revolution. They believed that Jesus called them not only to save souls for a future in Heaven, but to establish justice here on Earth now, especially for the long-oppressed Natives. …


Malinche (also known as Marina, Malintzin, Malinal…) remains one of the most enigmatic and controversial characters in Mexican history.

According to Texan historian T. R. Fehrenbach, “If there is one villainess in Mexican history, she is [Malinche]. She was to become the ethnic traitress supreme.”

Meanwhile, Colorado Professor Cordelia Candelaria…


At first it was my nightmare, then my curse, briefly my cross to bear, and finally one of life’s greatest blessings.

I never chose to be gay. Indeed, I spent nearly two decades attempting to deny it, run away from it, pray it away…anything.

As a teen, I furtively scanned…


Cortés was intelligent, courageous, ambitious, insubordinate, greedy, and ruthless — the quintessential conquistador. He established the Spanish empire (New Spain) in Mexico.

In 1511, Cortéz joined the conquest of Cuba, and impressed the island’s first Governor, Diego Velázquez, who chose him for his secretary, appointed him mayor of Santiago (Cuba’s…


Moctezuma I went down in oblivion, while his namesake, Moctezuma II, went down in infamy. The former is a terrible shame, the latter a vexing mystery.

Moctezuma I transformed the small Aztec city-state of Tenochtitlán into an empire. With his brilliant statesmanship, he created The Triple Alliance with Texcoco (ruled…


Sally’s postcard arrived like a love-letter — not just from her, but from the city she’d been visiting: Santander.

Santander! That beautiful town on the northern coast of Spain where Fate had brought me after college, city of laughing sea and stoic mountains, winter rains and summer mirth, desperate loneliness…


Twenty-seven cities worldwide and a South-American country bear Columbus’ name, as do innumerable streets throughout Mexico.

No, Columbus wasn’t unique in believing the world was round. He argued that the world was small, with India to the east just beyond the point-of-no-return (when a ship was half-way done with its…


“So, what’s it all about?” my uncle Fred used to ask me over the sumptuous meals we shared at yearly reunions.

“Isn’t that what you’re supposed to tell me,” I responded laughing.

Uncle Fred had been a Catholic priest. But, when told by the bishop to abandon his ministry to…


Quetzalcoatl was an enduring, often even preeminent god of all the great pre-Columbian Mexican civilizations, including the Olmecs, Teotihuacán, Mayans, Toltecs, and Aztecs. The amazing pyramid at Cholula (near Puebla), the most massive ever built in the Americas, honored Quetzalcoatl.

A plumed snake, Quetzalcoatl was at various times the god…

David

David Ellison, author of Santander: Rambling on Borrowed Time, retired after 36 years in education to Ajijic, Mexico.

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