On December 12, 1794, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Dominican friar named fray Servando Teresa de Mier approached the pulpit to rewrite history. For this he was investigated by the Inquisition, sent to Spain to be put on trial, was sentenced to ten years’ exile, and was banned from preaching and confessing for life. He spent the next several decades of his life in and out of various prisons on two continents, from which he escaped no fewer than seven times. While he wasn’t in prison, he was fighting Napoleon, agitating for Mexican independence, and hanging out in such glorious locales as Philadelphia and Virginia. (He also hung out in London and Paris but who cares about that.) By the time he was finally free of Spanish authorities, so was Mexico. He was among the signers of the first Mexican constitution. But even in death he could not stay put: his remains were mummified and sold to a circus owner (I wish I were making this up), Don Bernabé de la Barra, who intended to exhibit him “in Europe or America.” The body’s current whereabouts are unknown.
So, what on earth could this 31-year-old priest have said that day in 1794 to get himself into a lifetime (and afterlife) of shenanigans?