Pastorelas are plays that recreate the biblical passages where shepherds follow the Star of Bethlehem to find the Christ Child despite continued interference of Satan and his minions. These plays were used as a tool by the Franciscan monks to indoctrinate the native peoples of the Americas to Christianity in the 16th Century. Today, pastorelas are also used to describe and convey modern world issues such as immigration, socio-economic disparity, and even fake news.

Pastorelas were commonly an oral tradition, rarely being transcribed to paper. However, the Benson Latin American Collection holds a beautifully written and illustrated pastorela from 1853, possibly a one-of-a-kind item.

This digital exhibit highlights that rare item, El triunfo de Jesús contra la lengua del diablo : pastorela en cuatro actos por Manuel Antonio Zayas from 1853, available at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Room of the Benson Collection. It will also highlight other items from the Benson Collection that support and give more context to the exhibit.

The audience for this digital exhibit would include anyone interested in Latin American Studies, Language, Religious Studies, Archives, History, and Theater.

Multiple themes include religion, indoctrination, performance art, good vs. evil, and immigration.

Citation: Borrego, Gilbert, curator. (2018). Pastorelas: Past and Present.