North America Mexico

The Dominicans in Mexico


Spanish military and spiritual conquest of Mexico

Diego Velázquez, Spanish governor of Cuba
sent out expeditions headed by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba and Juan de Grijalva that explored the coasts of Yucatán and the Mexican Gulf in 1517 an 1518.

He commissioned Hernán Cortés (1485-02.12.147) to outfit an expedition to investigate the tales of great wealth in the area. Spending his own fortune and a goodly portion of Velázquez, Hernán Cortés left Havana in November 1518, following a break in relations with Velázquez.

Cortés landed in Mexico in March 1519, and then freed himself from Velázquez' overlordship by founding the city of Veracruz (21 April 1519).

Divining that Mexico was a fabulously wealthy realm held together by sheer force and that the Aztec ruler Montezuma held him in superstitious awe, Cortés pushed into central Mexico with only about 500 Europeans and several thousand Indian allies.

In an incredible campaign lasting two years, Cortés took the capital city of Tenochtitlán on Aug. 13, 1521.


In 1492 the Pope had granted the Spanish Monarchs sweeping authority to convert nonbelievers in the newly discovered  lands of the Indies. After the conquest of Mexico in 1519  by Velázquez, Hernán Cortés persuaded the Charles V, that this was a job for the friars of the Mendicant Orders: the Franciscans, the Dominicans and the Augustinians.

And so landed the first twelve Franciscans in Mexico in 1524.

The Dominicans arrived in Mexico in 1526, led by Dominic of Betanzos, but their efforts were ineffective, plagued by illness and dwindling numbers.

Later the Dominicans directed their main thrust to the south. From their priory at Oaxtepec they founded a chain of missions that extended through Puebla into Oaxaca. The Augustinians came in 1533.





The Dominicans built many priories and churches in México.

On stamps only: 

  1. Church in Cuilapan in 1557, but not finished.

  2. Priory of Santo Domingo in Oaxaca, with the first prior Bernard of Alburquerque in 1547. New priory (1550-1610) and church ‘Templo de Santo Domingo grande’ in Oaxaca, (1575-1660) in Oaxaca.

  3. Church and monastery of Dominican sisters,1742, in Patzcuaro.

  4. Priory and church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Teposcolula, 1538.

  5. The Dominicans in the province Morelos. Their ‘Convento Dominico'  and church of 'Our Lady of the Nativity (1570-1588) in Tepoztlán, built by Dominic de la Anunciacíon, O.P. (1540-1591).

  6. Priory and church in Yanhuitlán, built in 1526 but demolished in 1550 and rebuilt in 1550-1575. In baroque style adorned in the 17th century.


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