The free production, which took place outside from 7-9 p.m., was presented by the Mission San José Parish. World Heritage Director Colleen Swain told the Rivard Report that the event was made possible from funds raised at the 2016 World Heritage Festival.
“It’s part of our cultural heritage,” Swain said. “… It is a religious play that is so intertwined in our culture and history.”
Traditionally sung in Spanish with English narration, the origin of the play goes back to European medieval nativity performances. Told from the shepherds’ point of view, the play depicts the journey shepherds took to Bethlehem to honor the Christ Child, as well as the obstacles put forward by Lucifer on the way. At its core, the performance shows both the internal and external battles between good and evil.
The play version of Los Pastores at Mission San José is based on a 1930s script, and it is believed that a version of the play was performed at the Spanish-colonial Missions in the mid-1700s.
Franciscan friars who came to the new world to evangelize, used the play to teach indigenous people about the nativity story in an approachable way. This year marked the 69th performance of Los Pastores at Mission San José.
The parish offered pan dulce and hot chocolate for attendees to purchase during the performance, and many opted to bring blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the show outside.