Isabel de Ovejo, submerged in the sin of temptation and avarice, was judged by the Inquisitors

Moved by the desperation caused by her debts, Isabel resorted to forbidden practices that the Inquisition punished with excommunication.

Isabel de Ovejo, submerged in the sin of temptation and avarice, was judged by the Inquisitors
Witches. Image: Congress of the Republic, Peru

Moved by the desperation caused by her debts, Isabel resorted to forbidden practices that the Inquisition punished with excommunication. Guilt-ridden, she confessed her use of peyote before the Tribunal of the Holy Office.

In the year 1562 in Mexico City, the inquisitors took on the task of holding a hearing against a woman, who declared her name to be Isabel de Ovejo, originally from Ostotipac, a region near the town of Querétaro; she mentioned that she was over 46 years old and that she was the widow of Juan de Molina. and to be the widow of Juan de Molina; as well as to recognize that she did not know how to read or write.

The woman described her genealogy, mentioning that she was related to the archbishop and viceroy inquisitor Don Pedro Moya, who was a first cousin of her grandfather, according to her grandfather's word and supposed papers kept in his residence. Considering herself as "the only one unfortunate to end up a prisoner", Isabel de Ovejo found herself with the need to confess for what she was found guilty of; since on June 26th of the mentioned year, she had been captured and judged for using peyote in rituals considered as a sorcery.

In her confession, 18 years ago, before her husband died, she told him about Juana, an indigenous woman she called comadre, who lived on the road one tongue's length away from the town of Querétaro. Juana claimed to know about a treasure buried in the ravine since the time of the emperor Moctezuma, and that it was located where the river emerged in red rock. When her husband found out about this event, he simply told her not to get involved in indigenous affairs.

When her husband died, Isabel found herself submerged in debt and on the verge of falling into poverty, submerged in despair she remembered what the aforementioned comadre had told her, immediately and without thinking she decided to go in search of the treasure. Remembering the references she had been given, she went four times to the ravine, accompanied by a man named Lucas de Ayala, who was a musician by profession in Querétaro and had brought his mule, in addition to hiring some natives from the same ravine, they would spend hours digging holes without finding any kind of treasure.

When she was frustrated, Lucas de Ayala told her about a woman of Spanish origin named Francisca Martinez, who had contact with an indigenous woman named Agustina who boasted of her mother's qualities to find any object or person who was lost just by ingesting peyote. Isabel de Ovejo pointed out that she did not know she was not committing any sin by getting more and more involved in this matter, the same reason that led her to quickly contact Francisca Martinez to get in touch with this Indian, in the hope of finding the much-desired treasure and thus get out of her economic needs.

Francisca Martinez immediately went to Isabel's house in the afternoon to introduce her to the native. Already alone, the indigenous woman promised Isabel to drink the peyote, but for that, she would have to pay her three pesos, Isabel was immediately surprised and asked her why she needed so much money, to which the Indian answered that they should send to make masses, one for San Nicolas de Tolentino and another for the animals ("souls"), buy candles and some incense to illuminate the Virgin.

Feeling that she had the treasure in her hands, Elizabeth gave the money to the indigenous woman. About fifteen days passed and the native did not return, Isabel furious made her look for it through the same Francisca Martinez, the aforementioned Indian explained that she could not take the peyote because the divinity in which she put all her faith, told her that it was not the time to consume it.

Sinking in despair and a fit of anger, Isabel herself forced the indigenous woman to take the peyote, and in the same way, Isabel herself ingested some of it in the hope that the peyote would magically reveal the location of the treasure. After the effects of the peyote wore off and realizing that all she got were hallucinations that the devil himself was the one who introduced her to Francisca Martinez, Isabel felt morally wrong, remembering that once in the church of San Francisco de Querétaro she had heard an edict declaring that the use of peyote and other similar herbs were cause for excommunication. Feeling submerged in sin and the temptation of greed, she decided to go to the convent to confess everything to the commissioned priest, who would send her home and days later would pick her up to send her to the capital and confess everything before the inquisitors.

History extracted from the file: AGN, Inquisition Fund, Vol. 461, Exp. 22.