Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of treasurebeachesreport.blogspot.com.
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A lot of people found the heart-shaped cobs interesting. I'm one of those. They suggest some interesting questions - questions that might lead to some good answers.
I've read several different thoughts about why the heart-shaped cobs were made and how they might have been used. Sewall Menzel suggested that they were presented as awards to those in religious positions. Laura Strolia thinks that perhaps they were used as images to help evangelize the native populations. Someone else (I forget who) wrote that they were used as votive offerings, but somewhere else I read that the archaeological evidence doesn't back that up. At this point it seems no one really knows.
Katleen Deagan in Vol. 2 her book Artifacts of the Spanish Colonies of Florida and the Caribbean, 1500 - 1800 says, "The profound influence of the Catholic Church in shaping both daily life and public policy in the Spanish colonies can not be overemphasized." She devotes an entire chapter to religious artifacts and includes a table showing the number of religious artifacts shipped to the colonies from 1511 to 1613. Her sources show that 5246 rosaries were shipped in that time period. 11,671 crosses, medallions and other images were shipped in that time period. The vast majority of those, 11,512, were shipped in one year - 1603. Obviously there was a purpose for that shipment.
It is tempting to believe that the Sacred Heart devotion was brought from Europe to the New World. Laura Strolia, however, pointed me to an article that suggests that the devotion may have started in Mexico and then eventually made its way to Europe (See link below). Here is an excerpt.
Late in the seventeenth century, a French nun of the Visitandine Order, Marguerite-Marie Alacoque (1647-1690), in the Monastery of Paray-le-Monial in Burgundy, had visions in which Christ appeared to her holding out his heart. She narrated these experiences in writing. In June 1674, she described one of her visions: “the divine Heart was represented to me in a throne of fire and flame, shining on all sides, more brilliant than the sun, and transparent as crystal. The wound that he received on the Cross was visible. There was a crown of thorns around this Sacred Heart and a cross above …”2 To this vivid description was added the admonition of a French Jesuit, Joseph de Galliffet, who in 1726 published a book about the mystical experience of the visionary nun, and gravely pointed out that many pious persons “find more devotion in honoring the Heart of Jesus Christ as it really is in the sacred chest of the divine Savior.”
Notice the dates in the above paragraph. In 1674 the vision was described. Not knowing if that was the first time or if was the time that led to the adoption and spread of the devotion, it provides a rough marker.
Although I've read that the heart-shaped cobs were first produced in Potosi around 1640, all those in the recent auction, as I recall, were produced after 1700.
Here is another excerpt from the same article.
Thus, hearts pierced, bleeding, intact, and miraculously resplendent, were a common religious symbol in Mexico a century before Marie-Marguerite had her visions in a French monastery cell. Direct evidence between Mexican sacred hearts and the European devotion to a realistically depicted Sacred Heart, says Kehoe, “must be buried in some archive or priestly memorabilia.” But enough circumstantial evidence exists to propose that, consciously or subliminally, the minds of the foremost religious leaders were influenced by what theologians were doing in Mexico and reporting in a flood of written works that the European priests certainly read. The cult of the realistically drawn flaming heart of Jesus started in Europe and coincided with the peak of those publications. In sum, Kehoe marshals sundry arguments to show that, by a process technically known as “stimulus diffusion,” the inspiration to make the flaming heart of Jesus “an embodiment of the new humanistic Catholicism” may have actually originated in Mexico, and extended from there to France.
My thinking on the subject is just beginning to develop.
Here is a paragraph from Wikipedia.
During the pre-Coumbian era human sacrifice in Maya culture was the ritual offering of nourishment to the gods. Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering. By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice...
Heart, blood, and sacrifice are words and symbols central to both Christianity and the Mayan and Aztec religions. You can find Mayan images of a priest holding a beating heart and offering blood sacrifices. Those archetypal images are central to both Christianity and Mayan cultures, if not the psyche of all mankind.
I feel certain that the Spanish missionaries would use those symbols to communicate with the native populations. Those images, already invested with meaning and feeling, would be used to convey Christianity in a way similar to how pagan holidays in Europe were modified and assimilated into Christianity.
I don't have any idea whether it was Europe or Mexico that originated or most influenced the Sacred Heart devotion. What I do feel confident about now is that there is a common experience in the core of all mankind that transcends time and place.
Every human has a heart. The heart beats from a time before birth and is associated with life. And once it stops, so does life. That is a common core experience for all mankind - just one of many.
Similarly, a sense of the sacred is universal. Men worlds apart feel it. Men worlds apart know it. The few that don't feel it fight it, try to explain it away or just wonder about it.
I have to cut this short. I know that I didn't do the topic justice. I couldn't possibly do it justice in a post.
But one thing I want to leave you with is that the things you find often have a message. It might be easy to see or hidden. It might be simple or deep. In either case, it can lead you on a journey.
Here is the link I mentioned above.
That is all for now.