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The Holy Inquisition In Lima

In 1569, the Holy Office of the Inquisition was established in Lima, and began looking for heretics to prosecute. Under the Inquisition, there was a great deal of paranoia and witch-hunting. The Inquisition was charged with extirpating idolatry, but was forbidden to persecute indigenous Andeans. The idea was that the natives, recently pacified and brought to Catholicism, needed time to adapt to Christianity. Therefore, they were given a “free pass” of sorts; they were punished when they were found to be continuing to practice their traditional rituals, but not executed or burned at the stake (not always, anyway).



Since the natives were off limits, the Inquisition went after crypto-Jews (Jews who had “converted” but who continued to practice Judaism in secret) and Protestants with a vengeance. Muslims, who had fled the Catholic kings’ reconquest of Spain and who also practiced their faith secretly, and Africans were also targeted groups. Other crimes the Tribunal investigated were bigamy, sodomy, witchcraft, heretical writings and freemasonry. According to surviving records, 1,477 persons were investigated.



Lima’s Plaza de Armas was often the site of Auto de Fé's, which were public penances for those tried and convicted. Punishments for those found guilty included lashings, exile, imprisonment, fines and confiscation of property. Thirty-two were executed, half of them by burning at the stake.



The Holy Inquisition continued to operate until 1820. The former seat of the Holy Inquisition is now a museum, detailing the historical, social and economic aspects of these persecutions, and displaying various torture devices.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Lima: History of Lima,

07 Feb 2012

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