auto sacramental

auto sacramental

Spanish dramatic genre of short plays on sacred or biblical subjects. Performed outdoors as part of Corpus Christi feast-day celebrations, they were verse allegories dealing with some aspect of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. The form first appeared in the 16th century and reached its height in plays by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, who covered a wide range of nonsacramental subjects. Their performance was prohibited by royal decree in 1765 on the ground of irreverence.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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