(Condensed from +quot;The Mexican Messiah+quot; by Dominick Daly, _American Antiquarian_,
(Condensed from "The Mexican Messiah" by Dominick Daly, _American
Antiquarian_, 11:14-30, 1889, reprinted in _The Unexplained, A Sourcebook
of Strange Phenomina_ by Wm. Corliss, ISBN 0-553-02812-X)
When the Spaniards landed in Mexico in the 16th Century, they found that
many of the religious beliefs of the Mexicans bore a resemblance to
Christianity. According to Mexican legend, the foundations of their religion
had been imported from "across the ocean" by a god called Quetzatcoatl.
This Quetzatcoatl might well have been St. Brendan of Ireland.
II. Coming of Q. to the Toltecs, and the blending of the Aztec and Toltec
According to Mexican tradition, many centuries before the coming of Cortez
a bearded white man had come across the Atlantic in a boat with "wings"
like those of the Spanish vessels. He stayed many years and established
a system of government, and taught religion and many industrial arts. The
Mexicans called him Quetzatcoatl, of the Green Serpent, the word green in-
dicating a rare or precious thing. After a time, he sailed away for his
own county, Hallipan.
Quetzatcoatyl is described in legend as a tall white man, advanced in years,
with a large beard and dark hair, dressed in a long garment, over which was
a mantle marked with crosses. He was chaste and austere, fasting frequently
and sometimes inflicting severe penances on himself, sometimes even drawing
blood. (Note that the Mexican indians were dark skinned and beardless.)
According to the Aztecs themselves, Q. originally appeared to the Toltecs,
who migrated south out of Mexico before the arrival of the Incas. Some few
Toltecs remained behind from choice or neccessity, but most voluntarily
migrated to Central America around the year 1050. A century or
more later, the first of the Aztecs appeared; they were a fierce and war-
like people who did not begin to build cities until the mid-14th century,
and thus had ample time to be influenced by the remains of the Toltec
culture. This accounts for the strange, seemingly hybrid, religion the
Spanish found, a combination of civilization and barbarism, mildness and fer-
ocity, refinement and brutality. Prescott, in _History of Mexico_, notes,
"Aztec civilization was made up of incongruities apparently irreconcilable.
It blended into one the marked peculilarities of different nations, not only
of the same phase of civilization, but as far removed from each other as
the extremes of barbarism and civilization."
The Mexicans themselves attributed the savage and barbarous parts of their
religion to the Aztecs, and the gentler and humanising parts to the Toltecs.
The Spaniards felt those doctrines and practices ascribed to a Toltec origin
were reminants of an early knowledge of Christianity.
III. Similarities between Toltec and Cristian beliefs and organization
According to the Mexicans, the Toltec part of their beliefs included a single
supreme god, the creator and ruler of the universe, and the fountain of all
good. Subordinate to him were a number of minor deities, and opposed to him
was a father of all evil [was that the snake that the eagle strangled? EE]
There was a paradise and an abode of darkness after death, and also a third
place that wasn't quite a purgatory. There had been a common mother of all
men, allways represented as accompanied by a serpent; it was claimed that,
"By her, sin came into the world." She had twin children, who are represent-
ed in an Aztec picture in a museum in Rome as quarreling [Note the date of
the picture is not specified. EE]. There had been a universal flood, from
which only one family escaped. There was also, incongrously, a race of giants
which had escaped the flood and constructed a pyramid to reach the clouds,
a project which the gods frustrated by raining fire on it. The Mexicans
believed in a Trinity, a Reincarnation, and a Redemption. They errected
crosses throughout the country and regarded them as objects of worship
One cross near the present Vera Cruz was surmounted by a cross, and the locals
told the Spanish that "one more glorious than the sun had died upon a cross.
In Lord Kingsboro's reproductions of Mexican antiquities, there is a sketch
of a cruciform surrounded by a group of Mexicans. One is seemingly offering
an infant to the cross. The people believed in original sin and practiced
infant baptism by sprinkling the infant with water. The religion included
confession to priests, absolution and pennence; the secrets of the
confessional were held to be inviolable and confession to a priest would
free the confessor from both moral and legal guilt. The Mexicans believed
in Communion and Transubstantiation; the priest would break off pieces of
a santified maize cake and administer it to a "communicant" who lay on the
ground. The maize was regarded as the body of God himself. At times a
mixture of maize and human blood or flesh was consumed as part of the
worship of the War God, and occasionally a model of the god was formed
out of a mixture of maize flour and the blood of sacrificed children and
eaten by the worshipers.
Some orders of the priesthood were celibate, some practiced flagellation,
fasting, severe pennances, and mortification of the flesh. The priesthood
undertook the entire education of the young. The cities and rural districts
were divided into parishes and presided over by a priest who was of a
different order and served a different function from the temple priests.
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