Murals for the Love Heroine
As any proper foodie should, I went to Comonfort to enjoy the annual Tortilla Festival of the Indigenous to learn all about how tortillas are dyed with special symbols to reflect indigenous culture. It was fascinating and yummy, but what really filled my tummy was learning the most romantic love story of our area’s Colonial History.
María Manuela Antonia Basilia Roxas Taboada (names were really long then, so let’s call her Manuela Taboada for short) was born in San Francisco Chamacuero (indigenous for place of ruins and today called Comonfort) a decade after the American Revolution. At that time, girls didn’t go to school, but as a wealthy lass Manuela was educated by private tutors at home.
Colonial Era marriages among the wealthy are a bit of mystery to me. It’s hard to know, with the passage of time, was the marriage simply a business transaction, an exchange of her dowry for protection or actual passion? When Manuela married Mariano Abasolo in the still lovely St. Francis’ church in Comonfort (where she had been baptized) there is no question that, yes, she was wealthy, but she also had real chemistry with Mariano.
Mariano and Manuela were squarely on the side of the rebels come the revolution with Spain. Manuela’s brother, Pedro, and her cousin, Ignacio, had been killed in battle and while her husband continued fighting, she donated her fortune to Ignacio Allende and Fr. Hidalgo for their cause of freedom.
Mariano was caught in battle and sentenced to life imprisonment in Spain. This part of the story confuses me as why did the Spanish want to ship a convict all the way to Spain? Perhaps they were afraid he could escape here.
For donating funds to the insurgents, his wife was arrested also and volunteered to serve his sentence with him. Legend states Manuela jokingly referred to the boat ride as her “Free trip to Spain.”
The humor ends there as Mariano and Manuela were stuck in prison in a foreign country. He died in her arms following a painful illness.
The revolution over, and her husband dead, Manuela was released from prison and returned to Comonfort as an old woman. She had her funeral mass at St. Francis, the church that was a constant in her life.
Manuela is known today as “The Heroine of Love” for truly, always standing by her man.
Her former home long served as the office of the mayor and now is a museum filled with murals on the history of the region. In addition, there is a grand mural on her life and love of Comonfort, Mexico and Mariano.