Brotherhood of the Light: The Penitentes and Crypto-Jews of New Mexico
A novel about the un-easy and often misunderstood relationships of Crypto-Jews and Hispanos in New Mexico and their deep common roots in Spanish history--conquest and colonization--and religious faith and shared values. Brotherhood of the Light follows the lives of three men from one family who lived in different centuries but were inexorably bound by the legacy of a cross that was brought from the Old World to the New. A relic that had come to prominence at the battle for Granada, when Spain united to expel the Moors. Descendants of Sephardic Jews who fled the Inquisition in Spain, the family joined Los Hermanos Penitentes. This secretive society of lay Catholic men in Northern New Mexico, who believe in emulating Christ's Passion, his trial, his walk, and his suffering on the cross at the end of each Lenten season, was used for a dozen generations as a shield by the family to disguise their Crypto-Jewish identity while they struggled with the legacy bestowed upon them. John Castillo lives in this century, and is in search of the cross which had become lost two-hundred years before. Spiritually, he is devoid of a true set of beliefs, as he is one who knows of the family's past through inherited secret oral history. He is conflicted with who he is. Is he Catholic, or is he Jewish? Is he something because he was born into it, or is he something because he believes?
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