Skip to comments.Hernándo Cortés and Our Lady
Posted on 12/02/2007 7:28:29 AM PST by auraur
Hernándo Cortés and Our Lady December 2, 2007
Hernando Cortés, Spanish conquistador, explorer and Catholic. The latter title is not one that comes readily to mind in today's politically correct atmosphere. Modern historians often portray him as a ruthless brute, annihilating the native people and plundering their treasures.
In reality, Cortés was a great soldier of the Church with a deep devotion to Mary. He landed on the shores of Mexico on Good Friday, April 22, 1519. Many schoolbook historians broad brush the past and attribute Cortés and his men with motives of greed for gold and glory. However, that view fails to reveal what this deeply religious soldier and leader viewed as his true mission upon landing on the shores of what then was truly an evil empire.
Because so much of the written history we rely on today is from an Anglo-Protestant perspective, Spain's role in bringing the Christian faith to the new world is minimized by many early historians. It is important to remember the deep essence of purpose Cortés and many of his soldiers held. Cortés and his men never entered into a march or a major battle without having their confessions heard and Mass said. Cortés carried blessed medals of both St. James the Apostle and Mary close to his heart. Many of the men also carried rosary beads with them. Little did Cortés or his men realize, when they landed in 1519, what large a role Mary would play in birthing a New Spain.
When Cortés and his soldiers first encountered the indigenous people of Mexico, some of the first Aztecs thought Cortés was the god, Quetzalcoatl. In ancient Mayan-Aztec mythology, Quetzalcoatl, ironically, was light-skinned with light-hair. Legend held that he had left their lands centuries before to the east but promised to return one day to reclaim his throne and bring back the knowledge of the "one true God" to his people. Cortés never claimed to be Quetzalcoatl but this legend held back the Aztec Emperor Montezuma II from sending warriors and immediately wiping out Cortés and his soldiers when they landed in 1519.
Upon landing, Cortés planted a cross on the eastern shores of what is now Vera Cruz (English translation: True Cross), Mexico. He had Father Olmedo say Mass for his men on the sandy shores. Then a delegation from Montezuma (who was deeply troubled that Cortés/Quetzalcoatl had come on ships described by his spies as "floating islands") welcomed him, gave him presents of silver and gold and promptly asked him to leave immediately. In the banquet prepared for Cortés and the soldiers on board his "floating islands", the Aztecs sprinkled dried human blood on the food, as a test for Cortés. For if he were indeed Quetzalcoatl, perhaps he would be pleased to taste human blood again. Cortés and his men reacted with utter disgust, spit the food from their mouths and ordered Montezuma's envoys off their ships.
The sprinkling of dried human blood was nothing compared to the horrors of what lie ahead over the next two years. The Aztecs practiced human sacrifice on a scale unimaginable to the Spanish. No one will ever know exactly how many men, women and even children were sacrificed across the lands ruled by the Aztecs and the other Mayan-tribes for centuries before that. The law of the Aztecs required a thousand to their god Huitzilopochtli, the god of death, sun and war, in every temple every year. Historians tell us there were 371 temples when Cortés arrived. There were other ritual sacrifices as well to other gods. One Mexican historian estimated that one out of five children were sacrificed. Sometimes entire tribes were exterminated by sacrifice.
Month after month, year after year, in temple after temple, sacrificial victims came down the long roads leading to the pyramids, climbed the steep steps to the top of the platforms, and were bent backwards over convex slabs of stones. An immense knife with a blade of midnight black volcanic glass rose and fell, gutting the victim open. His or her heart was torn out while still beating and held up for all to see, while the ravaged body was kicked over the edge of the temple where it bounced down the steps a hundred feet below. The Aztecs priests who performed these sacrifices then consumed the blood that was collected, especially enjoying the consumption of the victim's heart. Other body parts were saved for other rituals, the dried blood saved to garnish at special ceremonial meal times. It was a culture of blood, death and gore on a scale that was unimaginable to the Spaniards.
Cortés and his men quickly realized the extent of the Satanic society they were up against. They knew their primary mission was to stop the evil practice of human sacrifice and bring souls into the Church. The gold and riches for the Spanish crown was secondary. Some of the soldiers were there for treasure to be sure. But throughout the next two years, it would not be gold or silver that would win the battles against the 25 million indigenous people that Montezuma ruled over. These Spanish soldiers knew that the true treasure to help them survive the battles to come would be the treasures of the Church: Jesus, Mary and the sacraments. Gold and silver was of little value in battle. When fighting for one's life, prayer was key.
Friar Diego de Landa writes in his book Yucatan, Before and After the Conquest in 1566, translated by William Gates: "(Cortés) preached to them the vanity of idols, and persuaded them to adore the cross; this he placed in their temples with an image of Our Lady..."
In fact when Cortés finally did reach Montezuma's capitol city of Tenochtitlan (today Mexico City), he boldly ordered that the top of one of the main human sacrificial pyramids be stripped of its evil idols, the human-blood stained walls be cleansed and that an image of Virgin Mary and a cross be erected in its place. Everywhere Cortés went, Mary and the cross were their companions. The soldiers wore the emblem of the cross on their steel helmets, on their breastplates and carried it on their banners. Mary was carried close to their hearts in medallions and by the recitations of rosaries. And when the Aztecs did capture Spanish soldiers throughout the campaign and drag them away, Cortés and his men knew they might become victims of the very practice they were determined to stop.
As the (Protestant) American historian William writes in his book, History of the Conquest of Mexico, originally published in 1843:
As the long file of (Aztec) priests reached the flat summit of the pyramid, the Spaniards saw the figures of several men stripped to their waists, some of whom, by the whiteness of their skin they recognized their own countrymen. They were going to be victims of sacrifice...what sensations the stupefied Spaniard must have gazing on this horrid spectacle, so near they could almost recognize the persons of their unfortunate friends, see the struggles and writhing of their bodies, their screams of agony.
Human sacrifice as practiced by the Aztecs when Cortés landed, was on a scale we cannot imagine. Or can we? In Aztec society, in Mayan society before that and other American-indigenous societies some of the brightest, most educated, well-trained and respected leaders were standing atop those pyramids in Aztec-Mayan society carrying out the bloody deed of human sacrifice to satisfy the hunger of their evil gods. Today some of our brightest, best educated and well-trained and respected leaders have convinced people in our society that it is a basic human right to sacrifice an innocent child in a Mother's womb. And instead of throwing that baby down the steps of a pyramid for everyone to see, it is quietly taken out with the trash. Satan still desires death. Our society today has passed laws to give him want he wants; convincing many that slaughtering their most innocent citizens in their mother's wombs is a basic human right.
Cortés conquered Aztec society in a bloody conflict. He immediately sought peace afterwards, opening the doors for his Spanish missionaries to convert the millions to the Catholic faith. Language and cultural barriers threatened the peace almost immediately after the battles ended. It took Mary's sudden appearance to St. Juan Diego and her self-portrait left on Diego's tilma (cloak) to convert people en-masse to the Church. Nine million Aztecs asked to be baptized by 1540 and tens of millions more were added within twenty years.
An incredible list of miracles, cures and interventions are attributed to Mary because of this image. Yearly, an estimated 20 million visit her Basilica, making her Mexico City home the most popular Marian shrine in the world, and the most visited Catholic Church in the world next to the Vatican. In all, twenty-five popes have officially honored Our Lady of Guadalupe. His Holiness, the late John Paul II, visited her sanctuary four times: on his first apostolic trip outside Rome as pope in 1979, and again in 1990, 1999 and 2002.
If we want the evil of abortion to end, let us be reminded of how a great devotion to our Blessed Mother has brought down evil societies, transformed peoples' hearts and led nations back to the Church. We always find in Mary the perfect mediator between mankind and God. Nearly 500 years ago, she was there for Hernando Cortés, his soldiers and St. Juan Diego and his people. Surely Our Blessed Mother will help us again if we call upon her intercession.
Cortés died in Spain, 460 years ago on December 2, 1547 at the age of 62 on his way back to Mexico. The historian Bernal Diaz tells us he was still wearing medallions of St. James the Apostle and the Blessed Mother when he passed onto eternity.
Mark Armstrong is the co-author of Amazing Grace for Fathers along with his wife, Patti Armstrong, Jeff Cavins and Matt Pinto. The couple's website is at www.raisingcatholickids.com. » login or register to post comments | email this page
I tremble at the thought that such revisionist history is being written in the name of the Living God.
Was it not Jesus who said (John 18:36) “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
We are not to take up arms to convert men, but our crosses, and if necessary die on them. God would have been better witnessed to by Cortez dying while spreading the Gospel, rather than slaughtering thousands. If anything Cortez and the Spanish rape and pillage of the Americas should be an embarrassment to the Roman Church, not something that is glorified.
Did God still use Cortez? Yes, but as He also used the Assyrians and Babylonians to chasten Israel. They were used and still convicted for their own sins, just as Cortez was. I pray that he was given the grace of repentance in the last of his life.
Really, this sort of stuff makes me think some in the RCC still wish that the Pope still had the power to throw a crusade at the infidel, and that the St. Valentines Massacre is the sort of thing that should happen more often.
So the Aztecs were killing people to sacrifice to their gods...
And along comes Cortes; slaughtering men, women, children and babies so he can steal their gold and prescious metals, for the 'church', of course, and no doubt, plenty for himself...
This guy, thru his butchering, murdering, no doubt raping and obvious pillaging becomes a hero of the Catholic church...
And non-Catholics are derided for putting a negative slant on Cortes' and his church's mission...
We always find in Mary the perfect mediator between mankind and God.
This is a blatant lie, according to the God of Creation...So who would perpetuate such a lie but Satan???
Mediatrix is a proper title for Mary, but we should keep in mind that making Latin nouns masculine (e.g. medaitor —> mediatrix) often provides subtle changes to meaning. Another proper title for Mary is Genetrix (Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genetrix, from both the Angelus and the Rosary). Genetrix comes from the same Latin verb, generare, meaning to beget or bring to life. We see this same verb take on a different noun form in the Latin Creed:
...Et in unum Dominum, Iesum Christum, filium Dei unigenitum...
In this case the unigenitum is Jesus, literally, the only begotten Son. Just as significantly, the genitor, or begetter, is God the Father. And so, genitor (masculine) means begetter or father while genetrix (feminine) has an equivalent meaning in reference to a woman: the one who brings forth, which is to say, mother. These subtleties of semantic expression are often lost in English texts because English rarely uses word inflections (e.g. genitor for father and genetrix for mother) to distinguish such shades of meaning. This is one reason why it can be perilous to draw some conclusions from an English translation of Scripture unless one is aware of the linguistic and cultural norms of the the society in which the Scripture was written (the phrase, James, brother of Jesus, where brother means cousin or other relative, comes directly to mind here).
But back to Mediatrix, a proper title for the Blessed Mother. Mediatrix is certainly the feminine form of Mediator, but Mediatrix does not merely take on the same meaning as Mediator when applied to a woman. Rather, it takes on a specific meaning that is proper for the Mother but distinct from the meaning of the masculine term Mediator, properly applied to the Son. Frankly, my Latin fails me in understanding this subtle difference, but no matter. We can simply turn to John Paul, writing in Redemptoris Mater:
At Cana in Galilee there is shown only one concrete aspect of human need, apparently a small one and of little importance (”They have no wine”). But it has a symbolic value: this coming to the aid of human needs means, at the same time, bringing those needs within the radius of Christ’s messianic mission and salvific power. Thus there is a mediation: Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings. She puts herself “in the middle,” that is to say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother. She knows that as such she can point out to her son the needs of mankind, and in fact, she “has the right” to do so. Her mediation is thus in the nature of intercession: Mary “intercedes” for mankind. And that is not all. As a mother she also wishes the messianic power of her Son to be manifested, that salvific power of his which is meant to help man in his misfortunes, to free him from the evil which in various forms and degrees weighs heavily upon his life (Number 21, emphasis mine).
“She acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother.” Herein lies the difference. Mary is not the Son but she is the Mother our Mother as well as His. And this state of being (i.e. universal Motherhood) is what defines her role as Mediatrix.
Masculine and feminine inflections in language are not merely syntactic devices, put in place to avoid embarrassing each other in speech or writing. Rather, these syntactic devices reflect deeper Truths about who we are as persons and as aggregations of persons - that is to say as peoples or cultures. These meanings can only be understood properly if we do not obscure them, either by explaining away masculine and feminine linguistic distinctions on a superficial level or by hiding the explicit masculinity and femininity in our sacred texts by replacing it with neuter language.
If we are to change the text, I would change “We always find in Mary the perfect mediator of God’s grace to mankind” to “We always find in Mary the perfect mediatrix of God’s grace to mankind,” in order to emphasize Mary’s proper role.
I might note that Cortes was stripped of his rank and sent back to Spain because he was trying to defend the Indians from land-grabbing noblemen who wanted to profit by the total enslavement of the local population.
The consecration of the main Aztec Temple in Tenochtitlan in 1487 (St. Juan Diego was a boy at the time) may have taken the lives of at least 20,000 over a period of four days (estimates range to over 80,000). The Aztecs made lousy neighbors, since most of their victims were not Aztecs. It is no small wonder, then, that the native tribes supported the Conquestators in overthrowing the Aztecs.
Alas, Cortés was human too. But that he ended one of the prime examples of cannibalism in making way for civilization is no small thing.
After all, had such savages as the Aztecs the means of exploration themselves, they would certainly have extended their practices the other way instead.
I have read both Prescott and Bernal Diaz’s accounts and find them facinating.
Cortez lost about 400 men at La Nochie Trstie (sp?) and later returned with thousands of Indian allies who hated the Aztecs with a vengance.
I have a Spanish speaking friend in Los Angeles who said that after the conquest there began a program of genocide against the Indians.
I do know that there were two priests whose accounts difer in this. One says the Indians were treated well, the other claims genocide. Maybe it is six of one and a half dozen of the other.
I think only Al Capone would wish for that.
(Hint: The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre are to totally different events ... well, people were killed at both, but other than that, they're totally different.)
I have to agree with you that that's a pretty questionable thing to say, since it presents Mary's mediation as apparently not merely independent of Christ's (which it isn't) but superior to it (which is inherently impossible, since it is completely dependent upon it).
As to who would perpetuate (did you mean, "perpetrate"?) such a lie ... Catholics who are careless about how they phrase theological propositions.
I don't know of the authors of this piece. (I know who Jeff Cavins is, but he's not credited in the byline.)
And non-Catholics are derided for putting a negative slant on Cortes' and his church's mission...
You would find Aztec paganism preferable to conversion to Catholicism? A religion which killed tens of thousands of victims (by cutting out their hearts without benefit of anesthesia, BTW) just to dedicate a single temple?
A religion whose temples were so steeped in human blood that they literally stank of it?
A religion which had a shrine consisting of thousands of human skulls, each of whom had belonged to a sacrificial victim?
Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the greatest miracles of our modern time. It would be worth your time to check out the scientific microscope that this apparition has been through. Ssome details are in the links above. Some are still happening, or have just happened and have not been reported in the media.
Nope...Meant perpetuate...This is hardly the first instance where it has been printed that Mary is the mediator between God and man...
You blame it on carelessness...So what was the careless part??? Is it that you guys sometimes forget that the real mediator is Jesus??? Seems to me it wouldn't have been printed if the thought wasn't in the person's mind...Perhaps the carlessness is saying what you guys believe in private to a public audience...
Maybe you don't believe Mary is the one mediator between God and man...But I'd say it's pretty clear that many in your religion believe just that...
I don't believe it for a second...The adoration of Mary is something 'perpetrated' by your church...There is nothing Biblical about most of the things you say about and attribute to Mary...
Jesus was very careful not to draw attention to the 'woman, His mother...
Now if folks would see an apparition of Jesus, that might be another story...But Mary, No Way...
You have made a goddess out of Mary and even call her the Queen of Heaven...She has a throne...Just as the goddess Diana, warned about in the N.T...
My advice is to get rid of Mary and focus on Jesus...No man can come to the Father but by Jesus Christ, alone...
I don't really have much of a brief for what "some" or "many" Catholics believe.
I care about what the Church teaches. She's quite clear that Mary mediates with and through her Son, not instead of him or apart from him.
I think the authors of this piece understand that, but are doing a poor job of expressing what they believe.
How many times must you be told that Catholics to not adore or worship Mary. We venerate her as the Mother of God, Jesus Christ, and we ask her to pray for us.
I believe that it is many Protestants such as yourself who choose to “perpetrate” such untruths.
BTW, we, as Catholics, do focus on Jesus along with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit — the Blessed Trinity. (I’m sure you are aware of that fact, too.)
Excellent article...and one that can help spread the truth about one of the greatest explorers.
I will definitely pass it around.
Take it up with the writers of the Gospels. Start with St. Luke; he seems to write the most about Mary.
Iscool, St. Paul writes that "all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction in righteousness". If you want us to "get rid of Mary" then clearly you cannot believe that anything written of Mary in Scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction in righteousness.
Either that, or you think you're qualified to censor God's word.
Bumping the thread!
“Never apologize for the Blessed Virgin Mary!” ~~Mother Angelica
Because so much of the written history we rely on today is from an Anglo-Protestant perspective, Spain’s role in bringing the Christian faith to the new world is minimized by many early historians.