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Festival Reenacts a Sixteenth-Century Nuns’ Rebellion from San Miguel’s History

By Susan Page

In 1760, in the convent that is now Centro Cultural “El Nigromante” (informally known as Bellas Artes), some nuns who lived there staged a most curious rebellion. The San Miguel Literary Sala is bringing you a two-day celebration of this pivotal conflict and the fascinating history of San Miguel at that time.

The event, called “Rebellious Nuns,” takes place October 17–18 in the same building where the rebellion took place. It will include dramatizations of the rebellion.

Register now for an exclusive reward

It may seem early, but registration is now open, and the first 60 people who purchase the “Rebellious Hearts” package before August 20 will receive a free guided tour of the Casa del Mayorazgo de la Canal, the gorgeous historic former Canal family residence on the corner of the Jardín, what some consider the most significant colonial restoration in the Bajío.

The exclusive “Rebellious Hearts” package also includes a highly specialized “In Her Footsteps” walking tour of Centro, with access to seldom seen buildings and rooms, with appearances by historic figures and with in-depth stories about the period.

The event will also include presentations by the author of the book Rebellious Nuns as well as another expert on this historic period. Celebrated local historian Graciela Cruz will also give a talk on the history of the Canal family. Equity actor/director Kirsten Dehner is preparing four short dramatizations of the rebellion, which will be presented throughout the two-day event.

Finally, a choir of acting nuns will provide period music, and we will learn and sample what the nuns in the convent would have been eating.

For full information, and to be one of the first 60 people to register, visit

The story behind the rebellion

The oldest Canal daughter, Josefina, inherited a fortune when both of her parents died in their 40s. Josefina’s passion was to start a convent in San Miguel. She was a disciple of Padre Felipe Neri Alfaro, who also founded the church at Atotonilco. He was a strict observer of self-deprivation, all-day prayer, and self-flagellation. However, it was fashionable in the eighteenth century for wealthy families to send one of their daughters to a convent. These young women came with servants and expected to live a comfortable, easy life, sharing their sisterhood. After they arrived and learned that the expectation was self-deprivation, they found a most curious way to rebel.

Speakers: Margaret Chowning, author of Rebellious Nuns, is a popular and award-winning professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. James Cordova, a professor of art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, specializes in this period. Graciela Cruz is San Miguel’s official historian.

Save the date now: Thursday and Friday, October 17 and 18. Register now to purchase the full “Rebellious Hearts” package while it’s still available at



San Miguel Literary Sala presents

“Rebellious Nuns”

A two-day event celebrating a key episode in San Miguel history

Thu and Fri, Oct 17–18, 2019

Register now for exclusive reward


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