I made mention in my post yesterday that my initial research into the history of Las Posadas indicates some Jesuit origins. Well, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet! Two of my colleagues – Santiago Cortés-Sjöberg and Miguel Arias – set me straight on the matter.
It seems that it was the Augustinians who introduced Las Posadas as a way to evangelize the Aztecs in the 16th century. The Augustinians requested and received papal permission in 1586 to celebrate a novena of Masses on the nine days before Christmas, the same time that the Aztecs traditionally celebrated the birth of their sun god. The Augustinians incorporated elements of Las Pastorelas (shepherd plays) that the Jesuits promoted in Spain (therein lies the remote Jesuit connection to Las Posadas!) as a catechetical tool to teach about the birth of Christ!
In fact, Las Pastorelas continues to be a big deal for many Hispanics. Catechists who teach Hispanics can capitalize on this cultural phenomenon to invite young people to role play as a catechetical learning strategy.