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Experience Eighteenth Century San Miguel History—Live!


By Susan Page

In 1760, in the convent that is now Centro Cultural “El Nigromante” (Bellas Artes), some nuns who lived there staged a most curious rebellion.

On October 17 and 18, the San Miguel Literary Sala will put on a two-day celebration and dramatization of this pivotal conflict in the city’s history, right in the building where the rebellion took place.

The two-day conference will begin with local historian Graciela Cruz giving a talk about the history of the Canal family, whose daughter Josefina was a key player in the historical events. Margaret Chowning, a professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Rebellious Nuns and James Cordova, professor of art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, will present education and entertaining lectures on the history of this incident. Former Equity/SAG actor and director Kirsten Dehner, who has written four short dramatizations based on the rebellion that she will stage throughout the event, presents a creative interpretation of the historic events that is innovative theater at its very best!

In addition to informative talks with slides and these groundbreaking short plays, the two-day event includes a choir of actor nuns in a period music concert. Cuisine historian Kirsten West will discuss what the nuns in the convent were probably eating and why, and the festive closing reception will feature food of the period. A movie about the famous seventeenth-century feminist nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, will also be a part of the event.

The rebellion

Josefina Canal, the family’s oldest daughter, inherited a fortune when both her parents died in their 40s. The young woman’s passion was to start a convent in San Miguel following the teachings of Padre Felipe Neri Alfaro, who also founded the church at Atotonilco. Neri Alfaro was a strict observer of self-deprivation, all-day prayer, and self-flagellation.

This came into conflict with the trend in eighteenth-century San Miguel for wealthy families to send one of their daughters to a convent, with servants and the expectation of living a comfortable, easy life sharing their sisterhood. After these wealthy daughters arrived and learned that the expectation was self-deprivation, they found a most curious way to rebel.

Registration and tickets

Register now at for more information, a schedule of events, and to be assured of purchasing the “Sassy Sisters” package. Tickets to individual events are also available.


San Miguel Literary Sala presents:

Rebellious Nuns

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

Thu–Fri, Oct 17–18, 2019


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