Los Pastores is a religious drama. The narrative for the play probably made its way to New Mexico with the Franciscan missionaries who brought Christianity to the new world. During the 19th century the play was a significant part of Christmas. Back then there weren’t many priests. On average a travelling priest would arrive in the villages to provide a Catholic mass once a month. In lieu of a traditional service people performed Los Pastores instead of midnight Mass.
Cast of Characters
The play begins with the apparition of the angel Gabriel, who announces to the shepherds the long-awaited Messiah. On that very night he is to be born in Bethlehem. The shepherds are named Bate, Tebano, Rotin, Lépido, Gil, Herás, Afrón and the lazy shepherd, Bartolo. Besides the shepherds, the cast has two angels, Gabriel and Miguel Arcángel. Lucifer, who seeks revenge from St. Miguel for his dethronement from heaven, is also present.
Welcoming the Christ Child
Upon arriving in Bethlehem, the shepherds walk up in anticipation to the crib. They lovingly present their gifts. Mary is often represented by a village maiden, whereas St. Joseph is depicted by an older man. Sometimes the infant in the crib is an actual baby. After all the gifts have been presented, four of the shepherds place a statue of the infant Jesus on a small blanket. Each man takes a corner of the blanket. Then they cradle and gently rock the infant to sleep.