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The Padre Martinez Bilingual Ritual: New Mexico’s First Book

The Padre Martinez Bilingual Ritual: New Mexico’s First Book


A Presentation for the Conference on



Para Los Autos del Ministerio Mas Preciosos y Auxiliar a los Enfermos


For the More Important Ministerial Actions, and Spiritual Aid for the Sick

Taken from the Handbook of Padre Juan Francisco Lopez

New Mexico


Printed on the Press of the Priest Antonio Jose Martinez

Under the Charge of J(ose) M(aria) Baca


Rev. Juan Romero

University of Houston, Texas

November 14-16, 2008


In 1993, I was doing research on Padre Martinez at the New Mexico State Archives in Santa Fe, and was handed the Manualito de Parrocos to peruse.  At the time, I was on sabbatical and residing at the Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Abiquiu, the birthplace of Padre Martinez.  One of my great interests and passions both as a seminarian and as a parish priest has been the study of and proper celebration of the “sacred mysteries,” the sacred liturgy, and ministering the sacraments of Christ to God’s people.  Perusing the Manualito of Padre Martinez became a holy experience for me-- touching and reading the Latin-Spanish text of this bilingual ritual put together by the priest of Taos.  He had lived a short stone’s throw from the house on Ledoux Street in the center of Taos that my grandfather and father had built of adobe in 1926, almost exactly a century after Padre Martinez came to Taos as the priest in charge.  My experience reading the Manualito paralleled that of Michael Olivas—a former seminarian and lawyer from Santa Fe, and professor at the University of Houston—as he encountered at the Library of Yale University two books published by Padre Martinez on his press.

…what really moved me to tears was holding copies of two books[1] printed by the Martinez press…  The first was…a book on Logic [1841]…  The second work [on Law, published in 1842] was even more evocative to me…  These glorious documents produced so many emotions in me that I sat for some time simply trying to process all the complex and unexpected feelings welling up inside me: having familiarized myself with the works enough that I could recognize the typesetters reminded me of my early graduate work…  I felt a distinct pride in being able to translate Latin and Spanish documents…being a native of New Mexico even allowed me to recognize…[certain details that would otherwise be lost to others]…  I recalled my…years of seminary training…completing a century-and-a-half long arc from Padre Martinez’s discipulos to me.[2]


In preparation for this presentation, I requested from St. John’s University in Collegeville,  Minnesota--one of the premier institutions of liturgical studies in the United States--a list of bilingual-multilingual rituals ever used for Catholic worship in the this country.  To my great surprise, I learned there was no such list available, even after consulting the “largest data base in the world”[3] regarding liturgical studies.  Padre Martinez in his Manualito de Parrocos of 1839 made significant strides in producing a bilingual ritual almost a century and a half before this became normal pastoral practice in the United States, in spite of the fact that this country has long been such a multilingual-multicultural land.  This ratifies what Rev. Msgr. Jerome Martinez, rector of the Cathedral-Basilica of Santa Fe has said about Padre Martinez:  “He was way ahead of his time!”[4]


The Manualito de Párrocos, the handbook for the celebration of some of the more important sacraments including the anointing of the sick--it used to be called Extreme Unction--is a jewel among the publications on the Padre’s press.  The Archives of the State of New Mexico has a copy in its collection of the Benjamin M. Read papers, the Huntington Library in San Marino, California has a copy in the William Ritch collection. This copy of the Manualito was much too brittle and delicate for the Huntington Library to copy or scan. Yale University, a treasure trove of works written or published by Padre Martinez, does not have a copy of the Manualito, but it does have his published Spanish translation of Leyes de Las Indias that he used for both his seminarians and then his law students.  The heirs of Pascual Martinez, youngest brother of Padre Martinez, own a copy of Manualito in mint condition.[5]  


Language is supremely important for effective pastoral ministry.  The Word is to be proclaimed in a manner understood by the people.  Latin, the official language of the Roman Catholic Church, used to be the only language used for the valid celebration of the Mass and sacraments, the public worship of the Church.  Nevertheless, the early apostles preached in the language of the people—most famously, St. Paul used koine (common) Greek in his missionary journeys among the Gentiles.  Missionaries have a long tradition of translating the Word of God into the vernacular of a people.  The brothers Cyril and Methodius--the former a monk, and the latter a Bishop--invented the Cyrillic alphabet for their missionary endeavors in Moravia, Bohemia, and Bulgaria during the ninth century.[6]

The diverse languages reflected and enshrined the culture of the various waves of immigrants that flooded the shores of this large country during the 19th century—Polish, Italian, and German.  The Irish already spoke and understood English. As a young boy, I recall the multilingual ritual that was in the sacristy of my home parish in Lincoln Heights, about five miles northeast of central city Los Angeles. It was a “handbook for pastors” to be used in the celebration of the sacraments of baptism and marriage as well as the funeral rite.  It also contained some common blessings.

The rubrics[7] in this multi-lingual  Roman Ritual, at my home parish in Los Angeles, were in English for the parish priests in the United States, but the words of the sacrament to be administered or the blessing given remained in Latin.  In the same way, the rubrics for the Manualito de Párrocos—which of course means Handbook for Pastors—were in Spanish while the text of the administration of the sacrament remained in Latin.  The Manualito was published more than a century earlier than the ritual in the sacristy of Sacred Heart parish in northeast Los Angeles.  The actual words of the celebration/ ceremony of the sacrament, in both cases, remained in Latin.  The latter part of the Manualito’s second page and its full third page are in Latin.

This Handbook for Pastors merits a privileged place in liturgical literature because it was one of the first bilingual rituals —if not the first—in what is now the United States of America.  In this pioneer bilingual ritual, all the rubrics are in the vernacular, i.e. Spanish. Some of the prayers and prayer forms were in Spanish, e.g., the questions for consent of the spouses in the marriage ceremony.  It was not until the mid 20th century that liturgical reform admitted vernacular in the liturgy—slowly at first with the renewed Easter Vigil in the mid ‘50s. The modern liturgical movement for renewal had European roots in the late 19th century that begin to bear fruit in the mid 20th and blossomed throughout the word after the second Vatican Council of the mid ‘60s. The full use of the vernacular is, of course,  is no longer forbidden, but is encouraged.   The wide-spread use of the vernacular was not the most important result of the Second Vatican Council that took place almost half a century ago, but perhaps it was its most dramatic.  Latin remains the official language of the Church.


A copy of the text Manualito de Parrocos was made was made available to me for this study through the kindness of the offices of the State Archives of New Mexico.[8]  The text consists of 55 pages.  The first three are not indicated pages, but the subsequent ones are paginated from 1 to 52.  The first two un-paginated pages are mostly in Spanish.  The first is the cover page, and the second consists of a printed preliminary note by the publisher and a handwritten note by the donor to the NM Historical Society.  The highlight of the second page is the Index of the work, and the beginning of a blessing in Latin for St. Ignatius Water.

Publisher Padre Martinez begins with a preliminary printed “Nota” in Spanish that speaks of publication without copyright.  My translation follows:

When permission for printing this handbook could not be obtained from diocesan authority, since copyright laws were in force, there was not any change in the method [of publication].  On the contrary, it was faithfully copied in accord with what was put down in the Handbook of [Padre Juan Francisco] Lopez from which this was taken.  The only exception is in the rubrics[9] and in the administration of Holy Viaticum that was taken from the Manual at the Taos Rectory by Rev. Father Diego Ossorio.

This printed note is followed by another short note written by hand in Spanish in1887.  It is the dedication of the document as a gift to the Historical Society, and written by Benjamin M. Read[10] or maybe his younger brother Larkin who had excellent penmanship.  Read inscribed the Manualito forty-one years after General S.W. Kearny occupied Santa Fe and claimed New Mexico as a territory of the United States.  My translation of the note reads as follows: “Presented by Benjamin M. Read- Santa Fe, NM to the Historical Society of NM.  Sept. 6 – 1887.”

What is contained in the Manualito is outlined in its index, and my translation from the Spanish follows:


Baptism of Children


Induglence at the Moment[11] of Dying  


Concerning Holy Viaticum for the Sick


Concerning Extreme Unction [Anointing of the Sick]


Burial of Adults 


Burial of Children  


The Sacrament of Matrimony


The second Banns


The Blessing of Water for Sprinkling


Gospel Readings for Proclaiming to the Sick


Blessing of the Baptismal Font


Blessing of Crosses


Blessing of Images


Blessing of a Habit or Scapular


Blessing of [Franciscan] Cords (Mortajas)



The rite of Blessing of the Water of St. Ignatius serves as an introduction to the ritual/book of blessings. The Blessing reflects Jesuit influence that, although it did not predominate, was still important in the missionary territories of America.  Jesuit priests taught Padre Martinez in his Durango seminary.  That Water is not a sacrament, but is a sacramental[12]  categorized under “Blessings” in the Handbook.


[My translation from the Spanish]

Here is placed the blessing of the Water of St. Ignatius.  A medal of the same saint is to be immersed [in the water] from the beginning until the end of the blessing.  It is used as a potion for the sick, and to assuage storms.

[My translation from the Latin]          



Our help, etc. [is in the name of the Lord].



Who made heaven and earth.]



Blessed be the name of the Lord.



Now [and forever.]



O Lord, hear, etc. [my prayer



And let my cry come unto you.]



The Lord be with you.



And also with you.



Holy Lord, almighty and eternal Father…



The actual text of the celebration of the sacrament of Baptism (pp. 1-8) does not differ from the official Latin text of the Roman Rite in usage during the time of Padre Martinez.   Since the Second Vatican Council, there have been minor modifications and adaptations of the rites, but exploring them is outside of the purview of this essay.


The Final Blessing in Latin (pp. 7-8) is to be given only “in articulo mortis,” i.e., when on is at the point of death’s last stages.  It is distinct from the less grave situation of “in periculo moris,” that translates to “in danger of death.”

Holy Viaticum  (pp. 8-13) is another name for the Holy Eucharist given to someone quite ill—“in danger of death,” but without necessarily being at death’s door. The word Viaticum is a combination of the Latin words “via tecum” which means “On the way with you.”  We are a “pilgrim people” on the way to the heavenly Jerusalem, led by our elder brother Jesus Christ whose mission is to guide and help us enter the loving arms of Our Heavenly Father.  The Holy Eucharist nourishes and strengthens our baptismal life, and as Holy Viaticum, it is the final accompaniment of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ into our heavenly home.

he time of crossing over from this world to the next is a most important passage.  It is an especially poignant and pastorally sensitive moment for the person dying, as well as for family members and friends who accompany the person to death’s door to usher him through the passage to glory.  As if to respect that passage to heavenly glory, part of the rite of Holy Viaticum for the sick is given partially in Spanish.  None of the rite is repeated nor paraphrased; different parts are selected to remain in Latin while other parts are put only into Spanish.  This includes the affirmation “Sí creo” in answer to twelve questions that the infirm person is invited to affirm during the sub-rite of renewal  of the Creed,  together with renewal of baptism commitments to reject sin and Satan.  The sick person is then invited to reconcile himself to anyone he may have injured by pardoning and asking for pardon.

The traditional formula before Holy Communion follows.  It is said in Latin three times, “Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof.  Say but the word, and I will be healed.”[13] The priest gives Viaticum (Holy Communion) to the gravely ill person while using the Latin formula that I translate:  “Receive, brother [or sister], Viaticum of the body [and blood] of Our Lord Jesus Christ who guards you from the malignant enemy and leads you to eternal life.”  The response is “Amen.”  (p. 12)

The Way of Administering Extreme Unction  (pp. 13-18)

This sacrament, now called Anointing of the Sick, is celebrated all in Latin.  It is no longer the “last anointing.”  It used to be too closely associated with death and dying; family members were often reluctant to call the priest in spite of the exhortation in James 5:14: “Are there any among you who are sick?  Let them call the priests of the church to anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And if he be in sin, they will be forgiven him…” Post Vatican II, the sacrament is celebrated much more liberally, no longer restricted to persons seriously ill.  In fact, elderly persons who are in good enough health are encouraged to celebrate the sacrament on a timely basis, maybe yearly.  It principal effect—Jesus acting through this sacrament as he does through all of them—is SPIRITUAL healing, and if it be God’s will—then physical healing as well.  The anointing of the five senses is preserved, whereas in the revised rite of Vatican II, only the forehead and palms of the hands are anointed.

The Form of Burying Adults (pp. 18-23)

This rite is all in Latin, and begins at the home of the deceased with the priest’s sprinkling three times the body of the deceased with Holy Water, while reciting Psalm 129 [130][14] in Latin—De Profundis:  “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord....” The psalm is ultimately one of hope.  “…My spirit has hoped in the Lord…let Israel hope in the Lord…and He will redeem Israel from all its iniquities…”

The Burial of Children (pp. 23-28)

The language of this rite is Latin except for the Greek litany Kyrie, Criste, Kyrie eleison…Lord/Christ have mercy!  The mood of this rite is upbeat, not somber and even light.  The procession from home to church includes the Our Father and the Psalm 148: “Young people, and virgins, and old men with younger, praise the Lord from the heavens.”  The beautiful song of the Three Young men in the fiery furnace[15] is the key scripture of this service.  This prayer gives voice to all of creation to praise the Lord: Benidicite!   Praise the Lord!


As a canon lawyer, Padre Martinez was quite meticulous pertaining to what constituted a valid marriage.  In the introductory exhortation to the contracting spouses, the rite outlines in Spanish impediments to contracting marriage: “consanguinity, affinity or spiritual bond or public continence [honestidad]…previous bonds (of matrimony) or religious vows.

By the free and affirmative response to key questions the priest proposes first to the bride and then the groom, they become spouses, mutually expressing their free consent in Spanish before the witnesses—priest and padrinos.  The spouses are “ministers of the sacrament of matrimony to each other,” and the padrinos, together with the presiding priest, are, on behalf of the Church, witnesses to this marriage.

Sac(erdote): Señora/Señor N., ¿quiere al Señor N. por su legitimo esposo, y marido, por palabras de presente, como lo manda la Santa, Catolica y apostolica Iglesia Romana?…

R. Si quiero.

¿Se otorga por su esposa y muger [sic]?

R. Sí otorgo.

Sac. ¿Recibelo [sic] por su esposo y marido?

R. Si recibo.

Nuptial Blessing- (De Las Segundas Nuptias)

The rubric in Spanish indicates that the priest imparts this blessing after Mass while the spouses are kneeling before the altar.  The brief prayer recalls the nuptial blessing that Yahweh conferred upon Sarah and Tobias.  The Angel Raphael was sent to help find a wife, and that is why Archangel Rafael is the patron saint (angel) for happy encounters, and the one to whom one prays in order to find a good spouse.


This sacramental is a reminder of the sacred waters of baptism through which we first pass over with Jesus from death to life.  It is used for sprinkling and purifications as well as for blessings of oneself or others.  Part of the rite included an exorcism using salt as an instrument of purification. Salt, however, in modern times is no longer used in the blessing of holy Water nor in the rite of Baptism.  Salt, however,  is still considered a symbol of welcome.  This comes from the ancient custom of offering salt to a traveler arriving at a home.  It was to replenish the salt lost from the body through perspiration.  Salt is also considered as an agent of preservation before refrigeration became available. 


This compendium of scripture readings is used to spiritually comfort the sick.  The texts are in Latin, but it is supposed that the priest would pastorally comment upon the selection for the benefit of the infirm person as well as the family gathered.  The scriptures include selections from the following Gospels: Matthew 8, Mark 16, Luke 4, and John 5.

After the reading is proclaimed and commented upon, the priest is directed to place his right had upon the head of the sick person.  The imposition of hands is a sacred gesture used in many religious traditions, and a liturgical gesture utilized in the celebration of each of the seven Catholic sacraments.

[Rubric in Spanish] Acabada la ultima Oración, ponga el Sacerdote la diestra sobre la cabeza del enfermo, y diga,

[My translation from the Latin]  They imposed their hands upon the sick, and the got well.  Jesus son of Mary, may the Lord and health of the world be with you through the merits and intercession of His Apostles Peter and Paul and all the saints.  [The prologue of St. John’s Gospel follows.]

Blessing of a Baptismal Font and Exorcism of the Water (pp. 45-49)
The prayers are in Latin.  The Holy Oil of Chrism and the Holy Oil of Catecumens --both used in the celebration of the sacrament of Baptism-- are used in this blessing of water.   Chrism is the most sacred of the oils, and is used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. 

Blessing of a New Cross (Crucifix) (p. 49)

Blessing of Images (pp. 50, 51)

Blessing of Anything (p. 51)

Blessing of the Franciscan Cord (pl 52)


By the early 1830s, New Mexico was long overdue for the services of a printing press, and Padre Martinez--with his interest in education and in political involvement--was a prime candidate for ownership of one.  “The press came in July of 1834, brought to Josiah Gregg and his partner Jesse Sutton on a wagon train from Missouri.”[16] “According to Lucian J. Eastin, a soldier under Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny who later used the press in Santa Fe to print the laws of a newly established American government, the wood and iron hand press was less than impressive.  He identified the machine as a Ramage press and dismissed it as ‘a very small affair.’”[17]

Once the printing press arrived in Santa Fe, little time was wasted in putting it to work.  By August, secretary of the legislature Ramón Abréu had issued an aviso announcing the opening of the press, as well as the newspaper El Crepúsculo de la Libertad.  Edited by Mexican lawyer Antonio Barreiero, the publication was a campaign device to facilitate his election to the Mexican Congress.  Padre Martinez soon became associated with the publishing effort.[18]

The primer-spelling book of twenty-two pages, Cuaderno de Ortografía, was published on the Abréu press in 1834.  Some consider it the first book published in New Mexico, but others claim that it is a booklet since it was too small or light to be properly considered a book.  Other publications printed on what soon became the Padre Martinez press were educational texts, religious and devotional literature, and political tracts.  The Padre’s newspaper El Crepúsculo de La Libertad was short-lived-- only six issues were published.  They were among the first publications on the press, but—sadly-- none are extant.  Padre Martinez published works for his parishioners, the educational institutions he founded.  His elementary school founded in 1826 did not benefit from the printing press.  The students used as writing tablets and blackboards slates transported from St. Louis on the Santa Fe/ Durango Trail.  However, the other two seminal institutions that he founded—seminary and law school-- benefited very much from the printing press, as eventually did all the people of New Mexico through his students in their maturity.  Padre Martinez established his pre-theology seminary at his home in 1833, and it was succeeded by his law school in the early fall after late summer’s American occupation of 1846.

It seems that Ramón Abréu obtained the press in Santa Fe from Gregg, author of Commerce of the Prairies.  Padre Martinez in that same year published a speller for his school dedicated to “Los Niños de los Señores Martines de Taos.” The speller was printed in Santa Fe on the Abréu press under the charge of Jesus Maria Baca.  By 1835, Padre Martinez had begun his preparatory seminary in Taos. He purchased the press at that time, and by November 2, All Souls Day, took it to Taos by for his own use, that of the seminarians and of the people.  He hired native New Mexican José Maria Baca as printer, someone he may have met in Durango—perhaps a fellow seminarian not ordained to the priesthood.

Manualito de Párrocos was printed in 1839 on the press of Padre Antonio José Martinez, Cura de Taos. It was published for use in “Nuevo Mexico,”[19] as its cover states, and was printed on the press of Padre Martinez under the charge of J. M. Baca:  “Imprenta del Presbítero Antonio Jose Martinez a cargo de J. M. Baca.”[20]

Besides Ortografía de la Lengua Castelllana, other publications of Padre Martinez catalogued in the NM State Archives include the following:

  • In 1837, he wrote his autobiography shortly after the Chimayó Uprising of the same year, but did not publish it (on his own press) until the following year of 1838: Relación de Méritos del Presbítero Antonio José Martinez, Cura de Taos. 
  • n 1839, Padre Martinez published two more books on his press: one was a tract on Political Discourses On the Important and Necessary. 
  • The other was the Manualito de Parrocos that is the focus of this presentation. 
  • Six years after Santa Ana’s battles with Texans at the Alamo and San Jacinto, Padre Martinez became well aware of the thrust of Manifest Destiny.  Since 1842, he had written letter s to his president Santa Ana and Bishop Laureano Zubiría of Durango warning his President (Santa Ana) and his Bishop (Zubiria) that the Americans were coming, and would bring their Protestant influence.[21]  The following year in 1843, Padre Martinez sent them a copy of a tract he published as Exponsicion Que…[sic].[22]
  • At the request of the General Stephen Watts Kearny who occupied Santa Fe in the name of the United States on August 18, 1846, Padre Martinez lent his press for the publication of the Kearny Code, one of the most important works published on the Padre Martinez Press.  


New Mexico once upon a time was much larger than its present configuration.  When it was the northern extremity of the Kingdom of Spain from 1598 until 1821, it included Arizona and Colorado as well as parts of Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.  Under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the immense land mass, wrested from the northern Republic of Mexico, became territories of the United States now collectively know as the “Southwest.”


Padre Antonio José Martinez was born in Abiquiu in 1793[23] when New Mexico was the northern extremity of the Kingdom of Spain. He had grown up in Taos since he was eleven years old, and at 19 married a young woman from his birth village.  Tragically, she died giving birth to a daughter, and within a year after becoming a widower, Antonio José went to the seminary in Durango—the ecclesiastical seat of the far-flung Archdiocese (bishopric) to study for the priesthood.  After four years of seminary study and formation, Martinez was ordained a priest in 1822, the year after Mexico’s independence from Spain.  Soon afterwards, he returned home to New Mexico.

In 1826-- after a couple of stints serving in other parishes—Padre Martínez went back to Taos and became the priest in charge of his home parish of San Geronimo at the Pueblo that included the mission church in honor of Our lady of Guadalupe near the Taos Plaza where the native priest had his residence. 

Very shortly after arriving at the parish, Padre Martinez established his school for both girls as well as boys. Bishop Castañiza had ordained Martinez.  When the Bishop died, Bishop Zubiría succeeded after an interim of sede vacante.  This new bishop of Durango made the first of his eventual three visits to Taos in 1833, and the prelate on this occasion gave Padre Martinez permission to establish a preparatory seminary at his residence.  This must have served as a strong incentive for the priest to doggedly press on to obtain a printing press which he accomplished within a few short years.

The life of Padre Antonio José Martinez spanned the three distinct epochs of New Mexican history—under the flags of Spain, Mexico, and the United States--and he literally left his “imprint” on each.  Among the various roles he exercised during his forty-two years of ministry as the “Cura de Taos,” Padre Martinez was a printer and publisher as well as journalist and author. The publication of the Manualito corresponds to an obvious spiritual need of a deeply religious people who were Catholics living at a time and place when and where priests were quite scarce during the era of secularization at the “edge of the empire.”[24]  New Mexico was the northern extremity of both the Kingdom of Spain from 1598 to 1821 when it became part of the newly independent Republic of Mexico for twenty-five years.  The founding Franciscan priests were getting older, did not recruit native priests, and most of them returned to either Mexico or Spain during the era of “secularization” when parishes were being turned over to diocesan priests.  The ensuing severe dearth of clergy, and printed resources, continued until Padre Martinez founded a seminary and obtained his printing press within a couple of years of each other.  Both the seminary and printing press were established at his home in Taos.  In the late summer of 1846, Padre Martinez helped broker New Mexico’s becoming became a territory of the United States.

New Mexico is Franciscan territory.[25]  The heritage and presence of the order has profoundly influenced the faith and culture of New Mexico since the exploration of Coronado in 1540, and the establishment of the Spanish colony in 1598.  In 1680, the blood of two Franciscan Martyrs ran through the streets of Taos, and the blood of several other Franciscans ran along the streets of Santa Fe during the most successful uprising of indigenous people over Europeans.  The cathedral-basilica of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is dedicated under the patronage of St. Francis of Assisi, and so is the church in Ranchos de Taos, the oldest church in Taos located about five miles south of the Plaza.  The adobe church of St. Francis in Ranchos has the fame of being the most photographed—and possibly painted—church in the country.  One of its interesting architectural features is the long wooden stripe traversing almost the entire length of the church.  The carving replicates a rope, and is reminiscent of the cord of Franciscan habit used as a cincture around the robe.  This same decoration of carved-wooden rope was recently uncovered between the ceiling and the top of the windows within the wall of the church of Nuestra Señora de Dolores in Arroyo Hondo, twelve miles north of Taos.


El Instituto de Liturgia Hispana together with the Mexican American Cultural Center[26] based in San Antonio deserves credit for so well continuing what the Manualito pioneered, culturally-based pastoral formation.[27]. There are several pioneers of pastoral-liturgical bilingual ministry since the 1970s to the beginning of the third Christian millennium who, even if they are not aware of it, are following in the footsteps of Padre Martinez relative to the promotion of pastoral-liturgical service to the Spanish-speaking People of God.  

Certain official and quasi-official publications are, in this regard, especially worthy of note:

  • Pastoral Care of the Sick + Cuidado Pastoral de Los Enfermos – Abridged Bilingual Edition.  It was “canonically approved by the National Conference of Catholic bishops in plenary assembly on 18 November 1982, and was subsequently confirmed by the Apostolic See by decree of the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship on 11 December 1982.  On 1 September, 1982, the work was given permission to be published and used in celebrations for the sick and dying.” The mandatory effective date set by the Conference of Bishops was the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 1983.  [From a Decree of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the united States of America, jointly signed by Archbishop John Roach, President of NCCB and Rev. Daniel F. Hoye its General Secretary]   Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, CSB of Las Cruces navigated the bilingual ritual through the labyrinth of the Episcopal Conference, and provided its Foreword.  The text was made available, i.e. published jointly by the Mexican American Cultural Center of San Antonio and Liturgy Training Publications of Chicago.  Rev. John Gurrierei, Executive Director of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, provided the acknowledgements and assured users that proper permissions from various sources were properly obtained.
  • QUINCEANERA: Celebration of Life/ Celebración de la Vida – Guidebook for the Presider of the Relligious Rite - was published by MACC in 1999.  The Quinceaños is a rite of passage for a girl of 15 to young womanhood.  Although it is not a sacrament as such, it is a holy time of transition for which Mexican and Latin American tradition accompany special blessings for the liminal time of new challenges/dangers as well as new opportunities.  There are also prayers invoking Mary as model and guide.  There is no official rite for the occasion, but MACC—under the leadership of Sister Rosa María Icaza, C.C.V.I. and Sister Angela Erevia, M.C.D.P. led a working group to produce this perfectly bilingual Spanish-English ritual on 73 parallel pages[28] as a gift to the Church in the United states.
  • The Order of Christian Funerals is a much more formal and sophisticated liturgical bilingual text officially published by THE LITURGICAL PRESS of Collegeville, Minnesota in 2002:


Vigil, Funeral Liturgy, and Rite of Committal




The spiritual life of Catholics is closely related to the sacraments.  These are the visible signs through which—Catholics believe--Jesus Christ powerfully acts for the salvation of believers.  The principal sacraments are Baptism and Holy Eucharist, and others are Penance, Marriage and Anointing of the Sick.  The sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Orders are restricted in their administration to the bishop, unless a priest is given a special delegation to confirm.  These later two sacraments are normally administered by a bishop, and so are not included in the handbook for parish priests published by Padre Martinez.  Also not included in the Manualito are Eucharist as Sacrifice (the Mass) and Penance, although Holy Communion for the sick and a penitential blessing for the sick are included.  This ritual contains the official rites and prayers in Latin for the sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, and Anointing of the Sick, as well as funeral and burial rites.


A short course in Catholic sacramental theology will help the reader of this presentation to appreciate the richness and significance of Padre Martinez’ bilingual ritual published in 1839 within what is now the United States. 

Sacraments are Signs

Sacraments are visible signs that are efficacious of God’s saving grace.  Jesus, according to some mid- twentieth century theologians is the fundamental, basic and primary sign of God’s saving love.  Through His becoming man, He made the eternal love of the Father accessible, visible and tangible.  The community of faith, called the church, is also a sign of God’s saving presence in a world wherein faithful men and women strive to respond to God’s call to holiness and fidelity to His covenant.  The Council of Trent, however,  in the mid-sixteenth century--in reaction to the Protestant Reformation that wanted to restrict the sacraments to Baptism and Eucharist--defined that there are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation Holy Eucharist, Penance, Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick.

Things, Actions (Gestures), and Words

Material (earthly) things (“matter”), e.g. water, oil, bread, wine, etc. are very important aspects of a sacramental sign.  Symbolic gestures (actions) enhance the sign value in the celebration (administration of) a sacrament.  These gestures are also an important part of the sacramental sign, e.g. the IMMERSION into or POURING of water in the sacrament of Baptism, the bishop’s LAYING OF HANDS upon the head of a priest being ordained, the ANOINTING of the body of a sick person for spiritual health—and also for physical health, if that be God’s will.  However, that which specifies the meaning of the sacramental gestures and actions are the words used (“form” or formula) in their celebration/administration.   For instance, in the sacrament of Baptism, the priest immerses into water or pours water over the person being baptized while using the Trinitarian formula, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  This sacrament, as all of them, uses words, gestures (action), and material elements.   There are many other signs and symbols (anointing with chrism, clothing with white garment, handing over of candle lit from the paschal candle) that enhance the rite of Baptism, but the prescribed matter (water) and form (words and gesture) are considered essential.  Each of the sacraments have their essential matter and form that make up the rite.

Effective (efficacious) Signs

The sacraments are effective signs because they are the words, gestures and actions of Jesus who powerfully brings about what the deeper meaning of the sacrament actually signifies.  For instance, when an infant, child or adult is baptized, that person intimately and truly shares in Jesus’ paschal dying and rising.  What makes the sacraments truly efficacious is the fact—in Catholic belief—that these special signs are actually vehicles through which Jesus Christ powerfully acts for our salvation.  These are His words, and His gestures, and that is why they bring about what they signify or symbolize.  That is to say that when Father Juan, Cardinal Roger or Pope Benedict baptizes Joe or Jane Blow, it is really Jesus Christ who acts in and through those sacramental signs that brings to life and makes happen the deeper meaning of what is signified.  In Baptism, the significance of the rite is a participation in Christ’s Passover from death to life.  In Eucharist, this is sharing in and being nourished by Jesus’ own body and blood.  In Penance, when the priest in the name of the Blessed Trinity says “I absolve you,” Catholics believe that it really Jesus Christ who forgives the sins of a penitent who is truly sorry for sins, confesses them, and resolves—with God’s help—to sin no more.  When the priest at Mass says over the elements of bread and wine the words of blessing that Jesus used at the Last Supper, “This is my body… this is my blood.  Do this in memory of me,” Catholics believe that the elements are changed into the body and blood of Jesus.  This is not magic—hocus pocus, a corruption of the words of Consecration, “Hoc est enim corpus meum…”—but the effective action of Jesus through the sacraments.

Minister of the Sacrament

In God’s loving kindness, the efficacy of the sacrament does not depend on the holiness of the minister.  This is because the sacraments are saving actions of Jesus made present and available today in and through His Church.  The ordinary minister of a sacrament is the ordained priest.  However, a layperson may serve as extraordinary minister of the sacrament in case of an “emergency” such as danger of death for an infant. In the sacrament of matrimony, the ministers of the sacrament to each other are the bride and groom; the priest—together with best man and maid of honor—are witnesses for the church in this covenant relationship that echoes the unity of love between Christ and His church.  A couple of the sacraments, such as Confirmation and Holy Orders (ordination to diaconate, priesthood and episcopacy) are reserved to the administration of a bishop.  However,  faculties to confirm may sometimes be delegated to a priest.  Bishop Zubiría delegated this episcopal faculty to Padre Martinez.

Missing from this Manualito de Parrocos are the sacraments reserved to a bishop, i.e., Confirmation and Holy Orders.  The formula for the sacrament of Penance is brief, and easily committed to memory by a father confessor.  The rite of celebration of the action of the Mass is traditionally contained in other books—a Lectionary containing the scripture readings, and the Sacramentary containing various Eucharistic Prayers.  During the time of Padre Martinez—in fact, since the Council of Trent until the Second Vatican Council, these books were combined into the Roman Missal, but they are once again separate volumes. 


In addition to the sacraments as such, there are some “sacramentals” useful in fostering the devotion of the people, but are not part of the sacred liturgy, the official prayer of the church. Included in this handbook, making it also a “book of blessings,” are other prayers for certain occasion or of particular objects used in (Hispanic) Catholic devotion.  The various blessings included are the blessing of Holy Water for sprinkling, and blessing of the Baptismal Font, and the blessings of crucifixes, images of saints, a habit or scapular.  A “habit” or “scapular” is a particular uniform or style of dress particular to a religious order, but may also be worn by a lay associate of that order, such as Franciscan or Carmelite “tertiary.”  When he or she promises to live his/her state of life as closely as possible in conformity with the ideals of the chosen religious order, a layperson may become a member of their Third Order.  It is called such because it follows the pattern of consecration after clergy and religiously professed man or woman who solemnly take the three evangelical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. 

Blessings serve as a kind of bookends for the Manualito.  They form a parenthesis embracing the ritual-book of blessings and binding it with the literary device known as inclusio, the beginning announcing the ending that reflects it in parallel construction.  The blessing of St. Ignatius Water begins the Book of Blessings/Ritual even before the pages begin to count, and the Blessing of the Franciscan Cord end the book of 52 pages.

“Bendición de Mortajas” is the final item listed in the index is also the most unfamiliar item mentioned in the index of the handbook/book of blessings.  The blessing is for the “cords of St. Francis” that a lay person may wear, and in the prayer the priest asks for the grace of a happy death of the persons clothed with that cord that has three overhand knots tied closely together toward the end of the religious rope.  They are symbols of the evangelical virtues of Poverty, Chastity, and obedience.


When in 1993 that I first came upon the MANUALITO at the NM State Archives, located in their new building in Santa Fe, I was intrigued by a notation on the leather binding that read, “New Mexico’s First Book.” Pam Smith, author of Passions in Print and an expert in the early presses of New Mexico, disputes this.  She points to the publication of the Cuaderno de Ortografía, the speller, published in 1834—almost five years before the publication Manualito de Párrocos.  I believe the notation may be justified if what we consider what makes a book a BOOK. I believe that it does have something to do with heft.  Although a “handbook” and not a tome, the Manalito’s  fifty-five pages nevertheless outweighs  the Cuaderno by almost two-to-one.  The speller would be a monograph or booklet at most, but the Manualito—in spite of the diminutive title—is indeed a book—the first published in New Mexico.  It was published on the press of Padre Antonio José Martínez Cura de Taos y Honra de Su País: priest, rancher, legislator, politician, educator, journalist, and publisher of New Mexico’s first book.

[1] Algunos Puntos de Logica (1841) for beginning the study of philosophy, and Institucionesde Derechdo real de Castilla y de Indias (1842) for use in the study of canon law.

[2] Michael A. Olivas, “Reflections Upon Old Books, Reading Rooms, and Making History,” University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law - LAW REVIEW, Vol. 76, Sring 2008, No. 3, pp. 817-18.

[3] Telephone conversation on September __, 2008 with Sister ______, in charge of library research at the Universty of St. John’s, Collegeville.

[4] Interview with Father Jerome Martinez for the film documentary The Dawning of Liberty by Paul Espinosa of Espinosa Productions.  Filmed c. 2004, not yet fully produced or released.

[5] It is in a clear (plastic) case that is attached to the back wall of the museum section of The Trading Post, a curio shop that sells jewelry and some books.  It also has a collection of items that may well fit into a museum.  Pascual and his family became Presbyterians in the aftermath of conflict between his older brother and Bishop Lamy of Santa Fe.

[6] This essay is being revised on February 13, the eve of their feastday that the Church celebrates  on February 14 when secular culture honors St. Valentine.  Pope John Paul II proclaimed them as patron saints of Europe, along with St. Benedict.  

“Cyril, +869, and Methodius, +883; brothers known as the ‘Apostles to the Slavs’; prepared Slavic liturgical texts; served as the ‘spiritual bridge between Eastern and Western traditions’ (Pope John Paul II); patrons of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia,  Croatia, Bosnia-Herzogovina, and of all Europe.” – Taken from The Order of Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours and Celebration of the Eucharist, 2009 (for the) Archdiocese of Los Angeles,  (and the) Dioceses of Fresno, Monterey, Orange in California, San Bernardino, (and) San Diego, Paulist Press, New Jersey

[7] In an official liturgical book of the Catholic Church, directions for the priest are printed in RED.  The Latin word for the color is ruber from which we get the word “rubrics” that giving directions for the gestures or actions the priest is to use while saying the appropriate words and using the apt materials for the administration of a particular sacrament or another liturgical celebration.

[8] Since July until November 2008, I had serious difficulty in trying to obtain a copy of Manualito. I finally obtained a copy at the place where I had begun the search—at the NM State Archives .  I am sincerely grateful to State Historian Estevan Rael-Galvez and his associate Dennis Trujillo, as well as to senior archivist and Sandra Jaramillo.  I wish to recognize archivist Melissa Sanchez who patiently took another look in the archives and finally unearthed the document in the Benjamin Read Collection.  I appreciate her electronically sending me a copy of the Manualito just under my deadline for preparing this this paper by November 10.

[9] These are official written directions, traditionally printed in red ink, to guide the priest’s precise words, gestures and actions in the administration (celebration) of a sacrament.  By exception to the usual mode of liturgical books, the rubrics are in Spanish instead of Latin.  Neither are they printed in red ink.

[10] Benjamin Maurice Read is the author of Illustrated History of New Mexico published in 1912, the year of New Mexican statehood.  He is, in New Mexican parlance a “coyote,” i.e. the child of one parent who is Hispanic and the other Anglo.  His mother Ignacia Cano from Spain, and her family migrated to NM.  His father, Benjamin Franklin Read, was US-Mexican War soldier, and is purported related to THE Benjamin Franklin through one on his wives whose last name was Read. Larkin was the younger brother of Benjamin Maurice, and he married a niece of Padre Martinez.  Through her, Larkin and his older brother  Benjamin had easy access to many of the Padre Martinez papers.  Santiago Valdez,  a putative son of Padre Martinez, solicited the help of the Read brothers to finalize his biography of Padre Martinez completed in 1877, a decade after the death of the Padre. Benjamin M. is a bilingual-bicultural pioneer historian of NM and contemporary of fellow historian Twitchell.  Because of B.M. Read’s cultural heritage, he was able to write with a distinct perspective inaccessible to non-native Spanish speakers.  Read was an early member and benefactor of the NM Historical society.  NM Secretary of State William Ritch was president of the group, and became a benefactor of the Huntington Library’s Ritch Collection that houses the Valdez Biography of Padre Martinez in San Marino, California.

[11] In periculo mortis means in danger of death, and is to be distinguished from in articulo mortis and refers to the fact that one clearly seems to be very near death, or in the act of/at the moment of dying.

[12] Examples are medals, rosaries, crucifixes, holy pictures or icons.  The earth from the pit of the Santuario de Chimayó is another example.  Sacramentals are to foster the faith and devotion of the people, but in themselves are not “efficacious.” They depend on the prayer of the Church and are to be radically distinguished from the seven sacraments that a children’s catechism defined as “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace,” i.e., signs through which Jesus Christ himself powerfully acts to effect what the sign signifies.  A fuller treatment will be found in the Appendix.   In Catholic faith, it is not the priest who baptizes and forgives sins, but is Christ himself. 

[13] The official English translation in the United States for the phrase “…et sanabitur anima mea…” over the past forty plus years has been “…and I will be healed.”  Its biblical-liturgical language reflects the inseparability of personhood.  It is in contrast to Greek philosophical categories of “body/soul” that in concept and language seems to compartmentalize and dichotomize the integrity of the human person.  The word  “soul” could be legitimately understood as “whole person,” as when we say that Joe Blow is a “good soul.”  However, in normal speech, it is usually used in contrast to body, although to complement and inform it.  The better translation of the Latin sanibitur is, I think, “…and I shall be healed.”  Nevertheless, in this country and other English-speaking countries, we will soon be going “back to the future,” reprising the hylomorphic category of body/soul compartmental-ization  instead of emphasizing the integrity of personhood.

[14] The enumeration of the Book of Psalms is off by one after one of the early psalms (9?).  St. Jerome in translating the scriptures from Hebrew to Latin combined one of the psalms, but scholars translating into modern languages from the original do not go through the Latin, and thus keep the older enumeration.  This discrepancy is to be carried over into all references to Psalms in this essay.

[15] Daniel 3:57-88

[16] Pamela S. Smith, Pam Smith with Richard Polese, “The Church and the Press: Nineteenth-Century Beginnings,” in Passion in Print: Private Press Artistry in New Mexico – 1834 to Present, Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, 2005, pp. 223, p. 19.

[17] Smith, op. cit., p. 19.

[18] Ibid.

[19] This was still Spanish New Mexico, and much larger than the confines of today’s state by that name.  It included all of or part of those areas of Arizona, Nevada, Colorado,  and Wyoming.  Padre Martinez’ vision was much larger that Taos.  He had recently begun from his own residence the minor seminary to prepare students for subsequent college studies and theological formation in Durango.  Afterwards, they would be assigned to various parts of the far-flung northern areas of La [Custoida de] Nueva Mexico.  With the American occupation in 1846, Padre Martinez changed his seminary to a law school.  Nevertheless, at least sixteen young men who had gone through his seminary would be ordained to the priesthood—some by Bishop Lamy himself.

[20] Cf. Henry R. Wagner, New Mexico Historical Review, Vol. XII, No. 1.  This resource was graciously brought to my attention by Pam Smith of Abiquiu.  She is author of Passion in Print (above), and former director of the Press of the Palace of the Governors, Museum of New Mexico.  She serves as an adjunct professor and faculty member of the College of Santa Fe where she teaches classes in the book arts.

[21] Valdez, op. cit., p. __.

[22] In this work, Padre Martinez gave his assessment of the political and religious situation of New Mexico and its inhabitants—both the Native Americans and Spanish settlers before the arrival of the Anglo Americans.

[23] Santiago Valdez, Biografía del Presbítero Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos, 1877.  This is an unpublished manuscript in Spanish, and is part of the William G. Ritch collection housed at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

[24] Cf. David Weber, Edge of the Empire: The Martinez Hacienda in Taos.

[25] Cf. Fray Angelico Chavez, My Penitente Land.

[26] It is now called the Mexican American Catholic College.  In June 1972, MACC was founded as a Pastoral Center for the formation of persons—Mexican American and Anglo clergy, women religious and lay people—to better serve the Spanish-speaking of the U.S. It was also founded to help pastoral personnel from Latin America to become acculturated to ministry in the United States.

[27] Retired Archbishop Patricio Flores of San Antonio deserves special credit for his key role in the founding of MACC as well as his continuing support of its efforts of pastoral-liturgical contributions for the Spanish-speaking of this country.  Rev. Virgil Elizondo, founding President of MACC, and Bishop Ricardo Ramriez  also deserving special credit for their leadership roles in MACC. Bishop Ramairez succeed Father Elizondo as director of MACC, and now serves as the Bishop of Las Cruces New Mexico.   Sister Rosa María Icasa, also of MACC, did much work in preparing and directing the preparation of liturgical texts published or promoted by MACC.  Sister Angel Erevia  did much early work for MACC in developing the ritual for the Qunice Años Celebration.

Father Juan Sosa of the Archdiocese of Miami is the founding President of the Instituto de Liturgia Hispana that served as an engine to get some of the liturgical texts approved and accepted for publication.

[28] Although the document/ritual for Quinceaños has 73, pages, there are footnot references to pages74-80.  It’s a puzzlement!  On p. xv (Roman numeral of the introduction), there is footnote 21 that says “See Romero, 74-80.”  Footnote #22 indicates “Romero, 75.”  The puzzlement is that my brother wrote a book on Hispanic Devotional Piety, published by Orbis Press in which he treated from a biblical perspective Quinceaños and other forms of popular piety.  I authored a monograph on Faith Expressions of Hispanics in the Southwest that somewhat treats the Quinceaños along with several other “faith expressions.”  I also wrote a fifteen-page essay on Quinceaños on the topic of Quinceaños from anthropological, sociological, catechetical  and liturgical perspectives.  To which Romero does the footnote refer?  Stay tuned!