Introduction
the ChIldren of rebekah
And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and
the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. The children
struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is thus, why do I live?” So
she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her, “Two nations
are in your womb, and two peoples, born of you shall be divided; the one
shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.”
Gen. 25:21–23 (Revised standaRd veRsion)
On February 20, 1757, Fray Antonio Claudio de Villegas preached
a radical sermon to Mexico City’s Third Order of Santo Domingo,
a devotional group of lay Spaniards.1 Villegas’s message was
revolutionary, but the priest was not seditious; he did not incite
the faithful to political action, nor did he question the colonial
order. Instead, Villegas preached a sermon of religious and spiri-
tual renewal, a new beginning revolutionary in its implications.
The sermon marked a special occasion for the members of the
Third Order: they had recently torn down the wall that separated
their chapel, located in the grand Dominican monastery of Santo
Domingo, from that of a neighboring devotional group, the Co-
fradía de Indios Extravagantes (Brotherhood of Migrant Indians).
From then on, Villegas explained, the Spanish and Indian mem-
bers of the two groups would share the same physical and sacred
space. Villegas lauded the Third Order for its actions, which by
uniting the “two peoples of the New World” in common devo-
tion had fulfilled biblical prophecies and marked the dawning
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