Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was the real deal- a genuine rebel idealist. On September 16, 1810 he risked everything when he launched the independence movement in Mexico. Earlier he broke all the rules by questioning many Catholic traditions, read banned books, gambled, danced and had a mistress. Not appreciating his lack of orthodoxy (I would have liked this guy) the church brought him before the inquisition in 1800 and in 1804 he was shall we say, reassigned to the hick town of Dolores.
His ‘punishment’ sharpened his interest in the economic and cultural welfare of the people. He defied Spanish colonial authority by starting several new industries including earthenware building products which were the foundation of the glazed pots and tile ceramics industry which today is one of the largest producers in the country. Mestizos and indigenous trusted him, expanding the rebellious base.
After his Grito de Independencia he was formally excommunicated from the Catholic Church for ‘heresy, apostasy and sedition.’ Wait, it gets better. He went on to state that the Spanish were not truly Catholic in any religious sense of the word but only for political purposes. specifically to rape, pillage and exploit Mexico!
Days later, Hidalgo dictated his first edict calling for the abolition of slavery in Mexico. Way to go Padre!
It seems predictable that he would eventually be captured by the Spanish and executed by firing squad. As if that wasn’t enough, his severed head was returned to Guanajuato where it hung in a cage on a prominent city corner for 10 years. This creepy display failed to intimidate people but rather kept the example of heroic martyrs for independence fresh until Mexico’s independence was actually achieved in 1821. In 1824, Dolores was renamed Dolores Hidalgo in honor of the martyr priest and today it is an energetic town of 59,000 proud of their place in history.
Touring the vibrant city on a Sunday (the best day to tour any Mexican city) we became enamored with the hand turned ice cream available from vendors on just about every corner in town. We just couldn’t get enough of it and it seems neither could the locals. It was hard to choose though among flavors like tequila, corn, cheese, honey, mole, shrimp, beer and tropical fruits. However, we took a pass on the chicharron (fried pork skin).