Gotta give the Catholic church leaders their props. They finally figured out that there is some serious tourism to be had based on the religious sites in the Americas’ first city.
Santo Domingo has a number of firsts, including the first cathedral in the New World. First convent. First school. Etc.
The Catholic News Service did a story about how church officials in the Dominican Republic realized that tourists were walking right past the cathedral in favor of the shops and cafes in the center of the Colonial Zone.
The reporter took the story beyond the Dominican Republic — like any good reporter would do — and showed how Catholics can tour Latin America and learn more about their church’s history in the region.
What Ezra Fieser missed however, is an interesting story about how a convent, court intrigue and an honorable priest led to a major piece of literature.
The details are somewhat fuzzy in my mind (I heard this about 5 years ago) but here is what recall:
A new priest arrived in the early days of Santo Domingo.
A political leader — with excellent contacts at the royal court back in Spain — took the priest for a stroll to point out the new buildings and highlights of the town.
The duke/baron/whatever pointed to a convent/girls school. He called it his “personal brothel.” He told the priest that because of his authority the girls and nuns in the convent/school had to bow to his every whim.
The priest was outraged. He complained to his bishop.
The bishop told the priest to be quiet. He told the priest that the royal was so well entrenched in the royal court that to make noise about what the guy was doing in Santo Domingo would only result in the priest being recalled to Spain in disgrace.
Sure enough, the priest could not keep his mouth shut and sure enough he was recalled to Spain.
He told his new superior that he did not intend to stay quiet about the evil ways of the guy in the DR. The priest’s superior was smarter than the bishop in Santo Domingo. He told the priest to remain quiet but to write a “fictional” novel of the amorous adventures of the royal in Santo Domingo. Then, explained the priest’s superior, when people asked about how the priest got the inspiration for such a wicked person, the priest could safely talk about what he learned in the DR.
The priest took his superior’s advice and the book was a major best seller.
The name of the book: The Adventures of Don Juan.
So included in the religious tours of Santo Domingo should be a visit to the former convent in the Colonial Zone as the inspiration to a classic piece of literature.