With great storytelling style Anna Lanyon takes the reader on a journey well documented, full of detail, and very poignant. The de Carvajal family had its roots in Portugal. The first Luis was tried and convicted of Judaismo, heresia, and apostasia. All were crimes against the state. He was later pardoned. The Luis de Carvajal of this story, aka Joseph Lumbroso, was born in 1566 in Spain, to second generation conversos. He, his mother, and five sisters all met their deaths, convicted of heresy, in Mexico City in 1596.
In search of a more peaceful existence, the family left Spain for Mexico. It is here that Luis de Carvajal had an astonishing “transformative experience” leading to self-conversion back to the Law of Moses. The years in Mexico, no matter where they lived, were fraught with further persecution as conversos, trials, punishments, more trials, and imprisonment. At twenty-two, in the midst of this oppression, he began a journal, his “book of miracles,” documenting his Judaic awakening. A most dangerous activity, Luis kept the book secret, hidden in the floorboards of the family house. Insistent that his mother and sisters give up practicing their false Christian rituals and observe the Law of Moses, he placed them in grave danger. And, indeed it did, exposing them once more to the Inquisitors. It is from this steadfast conviction and devotion that Luis defiantly, proudly went to his death, as did the rest of his family. His quest for religious freedom is fascinating, impressive, and timeless.
The documentation is truly remarkable as extensive transcripts were written at each trial, read and approved by each converso, and then archived along with many personal writings of Luis and his sisters. These documents had miraculous journeys of their own and eventually found a home at the University of California’s Bancroft Library, in Berkeley. Bibliography, index, notes.