Today In Fact, 30 July

The day of Zorro.

The founder of Mexico was executed today in 1811. Hidalgo whose full name was Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, was born in Mexico in 1753. Hidalgo and his brother studied for the priesthood and he was ordained a priest in 1778. He was considered clever by his classmates and earned the nickname “el Zorro”, the fox. He spent his first years in the priesthood teaching at a school in San Nicholas.

His liberal outlook earned him powerful enemies and his mismanagement of school funds led to him being sent to outlying missions stations and eventually he was given the Parish of Dolores, a small town in central Mexico.

Hidalgo was not a traditionalist in any sense of the word. He did not believe in the absolute monarchy, the virgin birth or the vow of celibacy for priests. He loved dancing and gambling. Hidalgo fathered five children from two women and spent much of his time engaged in social and intellectual activity, leaving parish work to one of his confreres.

This radical Mexican priest promoted self-reliance among the poor through grape cultivation, silkworms and beekeeping. His social development projects undermined Spanish colonial policies that sought to ensure dependence upon Spain and Hidalgo was ordered to stop his activities.

The situation in Mexico became very tense as the colonial policies oppressed many of the poor. Hidalgo started an insurrection and marched under a banner seeking death to the Spaniards. He was supported by many thousands of people and soon led an army, “The Army of the Americas” numbering some 90,000 people who rampaged through the countryside and killing Spaniards.

Through sheer force of numbers, Hidalgo’s army had some early victories. Hidalgo first went through the economically important and densely populated province of Guanajuato. One of Hidalgo’s first stops was at the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Atotonilco, There, Hidalgo affixed an image of the Virgin to a lance to adopt it as his banner.[13] He then inscribed the following slogans to his troops’ flags: “Long live religion! Long live our most Holy Mother of Guadalupe! Long live America and death to bad government!” For the masses of insurgents, this Virgin represented an intense and highly localized religious sensibility.

Hidalgo’s army almost took Mexico City in 1810 but a an armed force of some 6,000 disciplined Royalist troops eventually defeated Hidalgo’s army and captured this revolutionary priest.

Hidalgo was turned over to the Bishop who formally defrocked him and excommunicated him in 1811. Three days later, on this day he was executed by firing squad. They cut off his head and, together with other insurgents, stuck it on a pole as a warning to others.

Hidalgo has perhaps the unique distinction of having fathered children, being a father in the Catholic Church, and fathering a nation; Mexico.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (serendipiday.blogspot.com)

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