Juan María de Salvatierra

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Juan Maria Salvatierra, S.J. Juan Maria de Salvatierra.JPG
Juan María Salvatierra, S.J.

Juan María de Salvatierra, S.J. , (November 15, 1648 – July 17, 1717) was a Catholic missionary to the Americas.

Society of Jesus male religious congregation of the Catholic Church

The Society of Jesus is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church for men founded by Ignatius of Loyola and approved by Pope Paul III. The members are called Jesuits. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.


Salvatierra was born Gianmaria Salvatierra in Milan, then the capital of the Duchy of Milan, a part of the Holy Roman Empire. His father was of Spanish origin, and his mother was Italian. [1] [2] He studied in the Jesuit college of Parma. It was there that he accidentally came across a book on the "Indian missions," which fascinated him. He entered the Jesuit Order in Genoa and in 1675 he sailed for the Viceroyalty of New Spain, present-day Mexico. There he further studied theology, and was for several years professor of rhetoric in the College of the Holy Spirit in Puebla.

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,372,810 while its metropolitan city has a population of 3,245,308. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

Duchy of Milan former duchy in Italy (1395–1447; 1450–1535)

The Duchy of Milan was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in northern Italy. It was created in 1395, when it included twenty-six towns and the wide rural area of the middle Padan Plain east of the hills of Montferrat. During much of its existence, it was wedged between Savoy to the west, Venice to the east, the Swiss Confederacy to the north, and separated from the Mediterranean by Genoa to the south. The Duchy eventually fell to Habsburg Austria with the Treaty of Baden (1714), concluding the War of the Spanish Succession. The Duchy remained an Austrian possession until 1796, when a French army under Napoleon Bonaparte conquered it, and it ceased to exist a year later as a result of the Treaty of Campo Formio, when Austria ceded it to the new Cisalpine Republic.

Holy Roman Empire varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

Declining a position in the cathedral, he received permission to devote himself to the conversion of the indigenous people of southwestern North America, and in June 1680, set out for the lands of the Tarahumara people in the mountains of Chihuahua. He lived among them for 10 years, founding several Catholic missions along the way. He was subsequently appointed visitor of the Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert in the Sonora y Sinaloa Province of the Real Audiencia of Guadalajara in New Spain ( Mexico ). While there he formed a project for the "spiritual conquest" of Baja California, as all the military expeditions to that region of Las Californias had been without success.

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.

Chihuahua (state) State of Mexico

Chihuahua, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Chihuahua, is one of the 31 states of Mexico. It is located in Northwestern Mexico and is bordered by the states of Sonora to the west, Sinaloa to the southwest, Durango to the south, and Coahuila to the east. To the north and northeast, it has a long border with the U.S. adjacent to the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas. Its capital city is Chihuahua City.

Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert

The Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert are a series of Jesuit Catholic religious outposts established by the Spanish Catholic Jesuits and other orders for religious conversions of the Pima and Tohono O'odham indigenous peoples residing in the Sonoran Desert. An added goal was giving Spain a colonial presence in their frontier territory of the Sonora y Sinaloa Province in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and relocating by Indian Reductions settlements and encomiendas for agricultural, ranching, and mining labor.

Soon afterwards, through conversations with the missionary explorer, Father Eusebio Kino, he conceived an intense desire for the evangelization of the Baja California peninsula, for which undertaking official authority was finally granted in 1697, with all expense to be at the cost of the missionaries. After obtaining permission from his superiors, he sailed on 10 October 1697 for the Baja California region of Las Californias Province, to found the Spanish missions in Baja California chain.

Eusebio Kino Italian Jesuit missionary

Eusebio Francisco Kino was a Jesuit, missionary, geographer, explorer, cartographer and astronomer born in the Territory of the Bishopric of Trent, then part of the Holy Roman Empire. For the last 24 years of his life he worked in the region then known as the Pimería Alta, modern-day Sonora in Mexico and southern Arizona in the United States. He explored the region and worked with the indigenous Native American population, including primarily the Tohono O'Odham, Sobaipuri and other Upper Piman groups. He proved that the Baja California Peninsula is not an island by leading an overland expedition there. By the time of his death he had established 24 missions and visitas.

The Californias Region of North America

The Californias, occasionally known as the Three Californias or Two Californias, are a region of North America spanning the United States and Mexico and consisting of the U.S. state of California and the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. Historically, the term "The Californias" was used to define the vast northwestern region of Spanish America, as the Province of the Californias, and later as a collective term for Alta California and the Baja California Peninsula.

Spanish missions in Baja California

The Spanish missions in Baja California were a large number of religious outposts established by Catholic religious orders, the Jesuits, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, between 1683 and 1834 to spread the Christian doctrine among the Native Americans or Indians living on the Baja California peninsula. The missions gave Spain a valuable toehold in the frontier land, and introduced European livestock, fruits, vegetables, and industry into the region. The Indians were severely impacted by the introduction of European diseases such as smallpox and measles and by 1800 their numbers were a fraction of what they had been before the arrival of the Spanish.

With one small boat's crew and six soldiers, Salvatierra landed on 15 October 1697 at Bahía Concepción, on the coast of the Baja Peninsula, and a few days later, on 19 October, he laid the foundation of Misión Nuestra Señora de Loreto, the first of the Baja California missions, which he dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto, his special patroness through life. For a time he acted as priest, captain, sentry, and cook, besides studying the languages from a vocabulary prepared by earlier Jesuit missionaries Father Kino and Father Juan Copart, and from indigenous people who could be induced to come near.

Bahía Concepción is a bay on the Gulf of California, in southeastern Mulegé Municipality and the central-eastern part of the Baja California Peninsula, in Baja California Sur state, Mexico.

He soon mastered an indigenous language, and in seven years established six other missions along the Baja California coast. He also made some important explorations. In the organization and later conduct of the work his chief collaborator was Father Juan de Ugarte. The contributions for this purpose, by generous donors, formed the basis of the historic Fondo Piadoso, or Pious Fund of the Californias. (Later, it was a subject of controversy between the republican government of Mexico and the U.S.)

Indigenous languages of the Americas languages spoken by Indigenous peoples from Alaska and Greenland to the southern tip of South America, encompassing the land masses which constitute the Americas

Indigenous languages of the Americas are spoken by indigenous peoples from Alaska, Nunavut, and Greenland to the southern tip of South America, encompassing the land masses that constitute the Americas. These indigenous languages consist of dozens of distinct language families, as well as many language isolates and unclassified languages.

Juan de Ugarte Central American Jesuit priest and missionary

Juan de Ugarte, S.J., (1662–1730) was a Jesuit missionary and explorer in Baja California Sur, New Spain, and the successor to Juan María de Salvatierra as head of the peninsula's missions.

<i>Pious Fund of the Californias</i>

The Pious Fund of the Californias is a fund, originating in 1697, to sponsor the Roman Catholic Jesuit Spanish missions in Baja California, and Franciscan Spanish missions in Alta California in the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1769 to 1823, and originally administered by the Jesuits. It became the object of litigation between the US and Mexican governments in the 19th century, with the resolution making legal history in The Hague in 1902.

In 1704 he was appointed Provincial Superior of the Society, and resided in Mexico, but when his term was concluded in 1707 he returned to his missions in Baja.

In 1717 he was called to the capital by the Viceroy Baltasar de Zúñiga y Guzmán, to provide material for a history of California which King Philip V had ordered to be written. Although suffering from illness, Salvatierra obeyed, and, crossing the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), continued his voyage along the coast until he arrived in and died at the colonial city of Guadalajara in the Kingdom of New Galicia. The whole city assembled at his funeral, and the remains were deposited amidst ceremonies rarely seen at the burial of a Jesuit missionary, in the chapel which he had erected to the Lady of Loreto.

He wrote Cartas sobre la Conquista espiritual de Californias (1698) and Nuevas cartas sobre Californias (1699), which have been used by Father Miguel Venegas in his Historia de Californias, and his Relaciones (1697–1709) in Documentos para la Historia de Mexico (1853-7).

Salvatierra is still known as "the Apostle of California," a title he shares with Franciscan friar Junípero Serra, who founded many of the Spanish missions in Alta California.

Monuments and memorials

Salvatierra Walk at Stanford University is named for Fr. Salvatierra.

Salvatierra Crater in the El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve is named for Fr. Salvatierra in honor of his and Kino's 1701 explorations of the region.

See also


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