Nov. 22, 2022

This Sacred Family

Get to know the characters of El Milagro del Recuerdo.

It’s Christmas Eve in 1962 in a small town in Michoacán, Mexico, and the tight-knit community is rehearsing for their annual pastorela. In this traditional folk drama, a group of shepherds tries to reach the city of Bethlehem to meet baby Jesus by following a bright star that is guiding their way. They are stopped by Satan, who tries to tempt them off their path, but Saint Michael the Archangel defends them from the prince of evil. While some of the older members of the community have performed almost every role over the years, 7-year-old Rafael will be participating in his very first pastorela this year.

The town’s plaza is decorated for the festivities, and townspeople are dressed as angels and shepherds. Renata and Lupita are best friends, and their husbands are away in the United States, working to help support their families. This is the first time they will be separated for the holidays.


Laurentino has worked as a bracero for the last few years, but his time in the United States each season is getting longer and longer as more work comes in. It is 1962, and even though the Bracero Visa Program will end in 1964, he wants to work as much as he can to provide for his family.


Renata is a young woman of 28 years. She is the wife of Laurentino and mother of their 7-year-old, Rafael. She and Rafael have stayed in Michoacán while Laurentino works in the U.S.


Rafael is only 7 years old and has grown up with his father going to the U.S. for a few months every year. This will be Rafael’s first Christmas without his father in town.


The town mariachis, who play the guitar, the guitarrón, and the vihuela, are an integral part of the town’s pastorela.



Lupita is Renata’s close friend, and her husband Chucho also works as a bracero with Laurentino. She and Chucho have two children, Silvio and Araceli.



Chucho is Laurentino’s exuberant best friend who goes to the U.S. with Laurentino for work every year.



Silvio is the 11-year-old son of Lupita and Chucho.



Aba, a man of 60 years, is Chucho’s father. He has lived his entire life in their small town, but he hardly knew his parents, who died as young fighters in the Mexican Revolution.



Araceli is the 9-year-old daughter of Lupita and Chucho. She and her older brother are very close, and she loves being part of the annual Christmas pastorela play.



Father Matías is a priest who leads the town’s annual Christmas pastorela play.



Josefina, a widowed woman in her fifties, is Renata’s mother. She has raised Renata to have faith in the strength of one’s family.



A woman who comes to town in search of the butterflies.

about the author
Jeremy Johnson
Jeremy Johnson is the Dramaturg & Associate Director of New Works for Houston Grand Opera.