A year ago, we wrote an article to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Colegio de San Ignacio or “Colegio de las Vizcaínas” in Mexico, created by the Guild of Our Lady of Aranzazu in Mexico to train and educated girls and women.
And we’re bringing them up again today because two documentaries have just been published which go in depth into the history of this amazing institution. These documentaries are part of the program El Foco, which airs on the ADN Channel of Televisión Azteca.
So why is this so extraordinary? For many reasons. For starters, it has been, since its founding, a non-profit private institution, and is the only educational institution in Mexico to have been in continuous operation since colonial times, surviving all the nationalizations and expropriations that have happened in Mexican history. True to its origins, it still provides scholarships to those in need, but it has adapted to changing times: while it started as a place of learning for widows and orphan girls of Basque origin, it now educates both sexes equally. Finally, it is still run by a board of trustees, which is part of the line of school leaders that can be traced back, without interruption, to its original founders.
What’s more, inside its walls it houses the José María Basagoiti Noriega Historical Archives, made up of the collections whose central theme is the life of women and the institutions that protected them in Mexico from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
No one can doubt that this is a Mexican educational institution, as the descendants of the Basques who founded it are Mexican, just like those who have maintained, protected, and led the school for over two and a half centuries.
But it is also true that it is a Basque legacy born form one of the most important nodes in the web the Basques wove during colonial times throughout the Americas and the Philippines. We’re referring, again, to the Guild of Our Lady of Aranzazu of Meixco, which was a key player in the network of Brotherhoods and Guilds that were created by the Basques in the colonies under the patronage of Our Lady of Aránzazu to gather together to protect and help each other in all matters religious, social, and economic. Another player in that network, which we’ve mentioned many times, is the Brotherhood created in Lima in 1612.
This Guild of Aranzazu in Mexico was founded in 1681, meaning there are just eleven short years before it will celebrate the 350th anniversary of its founding by Basques who had settled there.
These two documentaries were filmed by Héctor de Mauleón and Veka Duncan. One of them is all about the school itself, and the other about the archives.
Speaking of Basque descendants in Mexico, it can’t be just a coincidence that one of the producers of the program El Foco has a surname that just happens to be the capital of Soule. This would mean that Héctor de Mauleón has a direct relationship with that Basque heritage we see so much of in Mexico.
Along with the two videos, we’re also sharing an article written by Elisa Luque Alcaide about the Guild of Aranzazu of Mexico. She is one of the leading experts in these matters, and we’ve had the pleasure of citing her before, when discussing the Brotherhood of Aranzazu in Lima. Our only niggle is that she always refers to the community as the “Basque-Navarrese” community, when they, the founders, made no such distinction.
El Colegio de las Vizcaínas
The collection of the Colegio de las VizcaínasHermandad de Aranzazu de Mexico