Confused Conversos: Juan del Hoyo

Many Conversos combined Christian and Jewish observances and beliefs. Since Christianity possessed elements which were derived from the Hebrew Scriptures, the dividing line between Jewish and Christian beliefs might not have been visible to many. The fact that Conversos received little Christian education only confused things more. The case of Juan del Hoyo provides one example.

Hoyo was an orphan at an early age and was raised by various members of the Converso community in his native town. Later in life, he was questioned by the Inquisition and found to be completely devoid of any significant knowledge of the Christian faith. When asked if he was a Christian, he surprisingly answered that he was not sure. Astounded by his reply, the Inquisitors questioned him regarding his beliefs. He stated he believed in Jesus and that he was born of the Virgin Mary, but then shockingly added that Christ had not suffered or died. This was to come.

Hoyo added that he did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. He doubted the miracle of the transubstantiation. The Inquisitors realized that he lacked even minimal instruction, yet they still sentenced him to imprisonment. While confined, he was ordered to receive religious instruction.[1]

[1] María del Pilar Rábade Obradó, “La instrucción cristiana de los conversos en la Castilla del siglo XV,” En la España Medieval, 22 (1999): 393.

Posted by Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez the director of the B’nei Anusim Center for Education and the author of What is Kosher? and Who is a Jew?

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