Final Judgment

Attributed to Andrés de Olmos (Mexico, Sixteenth Century)
Translated by John J. Cornyn and BYRON McAfee

This awe-inspiring piece of evangelical theater, which draws on the conventions of medieval morality plays, was meant to serve as an ‘example’ of the terrifying fate that awaited indigenous people who failed to lead a devout life as good Catholics. And yet what it reveals is a complex struggle between two opposed systems of belief: though it seems to have been written by a Franciscan friar, it was staged in the Nahuatl language by indigenous actors and incorporates many of the symbols and performance practices of the Mexica people.Final Judgment is an ‘example’ of repression but also of transformation and regeneration.

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