Los Pastores. Photo of entire cast, devils appearing without masks. Taken by
Capt. John G. Bourke, 1893, San Antonio. Copied from Los Pastores by
M. R. Cole; Memoirs of the American Folklore Society, Vol. IX, Boston,
MA, 1907. Courtesy of the Institute of Texan Cultures.
such presentations in his home town of
Irapuato, Guanajuato. The text was incomplete,
but Granados completed it
from memory. Father Carmelo Tranchese
of the Guadalupe Parish Church of San
Antonio helped in editing and translating
the text into English. A bilingual text of
the play was published in 1949 by Trevino
Brothers Printing Company of San
The play is presented annually in the
San Jose Mission of San Antonio, usually
beginning on December 16, the traditional
first day of the processions of Las
Posadas (the Holy Pilgrims seeking lodging).
The Guadalupe Parish players have
become known in many places, and they
have performed the play as far away as
All three of these Texas pastorelas from
Rio Grande City, San Antonio, and
Edinburg are evidently direct descendants
of what is called Cuaderno de pastores para
selebrar el nacimiento del Nifio Dios (Shepherds'
Play to Celebrate the Birth of the
Christ Child) from Saltillo, Mexico. The
copybook containing this was obtained in
Saltillo in the early 1940s and is now in
the library of Texas Woman's University
in Denton, together with a bound photocopy.
At the end of the pastorela is the
signature of Bernabe Castaneda.
Such cuadernos are to be found in all
parts of Mexico and in the Southwest of
the United States, but I have seen none
that approaches that of Saltillo in length,
plan, and organization, and in many respects
artisitic composition and presentation.
The complete cuaderno runs to a
total of 6,650 verses and shows a very
logical presentation of episodes, songs,
and events. The style of composition
Taken by Capt. John G. Bourke, 1893, San Antonio. Copied from Los
Pastores by M. R. Cole; Memoirs of the American Folklore Society, Vol. IX,
Boston, MA, 1907. Courtesy of the Institute of Texan Cultures.
Luzbel ascending from the jaws of Hades. Taken by Elicson Photography, San
Antonio, Texas. Courtesy of the Institute of Texan Cultures.
retains the freshness and vigor of the
speech, culture and psychology of the
campesinos, and incorporates the lofty
concepts and phrases of the great writers
without degenerating into hollow bombast
and parroting of phrases that all too
frequently are found.
The Saltillo pastorela is almost three
times as long as any of the three from
Texas. This length is due in part to the
inclusion of many more songs in this version,
and also to the extended scenes of
the Concilio de Luzbel. Whereas in the
Edinburg pastorela there are only two satanic
figures-Lucifer and Asmodeusin
the Saltillo play there are seven. The
other five are Pecado (Sin), Barrabas,
Zatanas (Satan), Astucia (Cunning) and
Belsebut (Beelzebub). The San Antonio
version has eight, omitting Barrabas of
the Saltillo play and including Esturiel
(Asturiel) and Astarot (Astarte).
In the summer of 1967 I went to Saltillo
to secure additional information on
the subject of the pastorelas. Through the
good offices of Sefior Licenciado Evelio
H. Gonzalez Trevino, longtime friend
and one-time mayor of Saltillo, I had the
privilege of participating in a couple of
stimulating tertulias, and in one of these a
very personable man, Sefior Luis Martell,
a former participant in the presentation
of the pastorelas, gave a great deal of interesting
information. By means of a tape
recorder I preserved these conversations
for more careful listening and consideration
after returning home. He also recorded
for me the portion of the play that
covers the seven deadly sins. This episode
is not included in the Edinburg pastorela.
Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 4, Number 3, Winter 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45440/. Accessed November 30, 2015.