A Trip to Mier y Noriega, Mexico with Cervando Martinez M.D.

We left Dallas on Cherry’s birthday, June 8, 2017. We drove five hours to Kerrville Texas and spent the night with our friend Jan Pickett, a widowed nurse of the artist Denny Pickett. Cypress trees on the riverWe agreed to buy another one of his paintings from a style that we do not have represented in our collection.

The next day we headed to San Antonio and put our belongings in Cervando’s car and headed for Laredo. We arrived after dark and it took us four hours to cut through the red tape and get our car permit for the interior of Mexico. Cervando had neglected to get his last permit canceled and that was the hold up. It was hot but I was able to watch game four of the NBA finals on my phone, the only game Cleveland won.
We spent the night at a motel in Laredo and the next morning started our four-hour drive around Monterey and Saltillo to Matahuala and then through the town named Dr. Arroyo then to Mier y Noriega, a town of about 5000 people at about 5200 feet.

José Servando Teresa de Mier Noriega y Guerra was a Dominican priest born in Monterrey in 1765. At age 16 he entered the Dominican order in Mexico City. By the age of 27 he had a doctorate and was a noted preacher. On December 12, 1794 he was asked to give the sermon in front of the Archbishop and the Viceroy. In this sermon he alleged that the Virgin of Guadalupe (i. e. the Virgin Mary) had first appeared not in 1531 to Juan Diego but 1750 years before on the cloak of St. Thomas the apostle who had preached in the Americas after Christ’s crucifixion long before the Spanish conquest. Noriega asserted that the Aztecs had been preached to by St. Thomas and had made him their god, Quetzalcóatl.
This so incensed the Archbishop that Noriega was excommunicated and exiled to a convent in Spain, stripped of his doctoral degree, and prohibited from ever teaching, preaching, or hearing confessions . He was imprisoned several more times in Europe after escaping and in 1816 was part of the Mina expedition attempting to obtain Mexico’s independence. The Mina expedition landed in 1817 180 miles south of Brownsville, TX where they were again captured. Noriega is credited with bringing the first printing press to the New World on that expedition. He was finally elected a member of Congress in 1823 and died peacefully in Mexico City in 1827. The only memorial he got for his troubles was an obscure town in northern Mexico bearing his name. A copper statue at the town’s entry memorializes his image, his priesthood, imprisonments, and the printing press.  

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Retired physician, author, and nonprofit worker in Africa

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