Priest and Doctor
Protector of Indigenous People
Return to Page: Kino's Life
Among the few known methodological texts that provide insights into missionary practices characteristic of this movement is Book Eight of Kino's "Vida del F. X. Saeta." In it Kino stressed that for the missionary to excel in conversion, he must nurture the virtue of patience and tolerance.
From the text, its is clear the Kino admonished the missionary that preached from a position of authority, but rather advised that the missionary should work to maintain closed personal contact with the Natives, often sitting among them on the dirt floor or on a rock.
Eric A. Schroeder
"Hegemony and Mission Practices in Colonial New Spain"
in "Evangelization and Cultural Conflict in Colonial Mexico" 2014
No simple hagiography, the "Life of Javier Saeta" was a passionate defense of the Pimería Alta mission that listed Spanish errors and defended Pima innocence in the face of abuse. Through historical evidence the missionary identified the material causes behind not only Saeta's murder, but also the wider violence that led to the Pima Revolt of 1695, including the indiscriminate massacre of 48 Pimas at El Tupo. Thus the missionary not only modeled careful scholarship, but also intercultural understanding and social justice.
Dr. Brandon Bayne
Recalling Kino: Remembering a Pimería Past, Reimanging an Arizona Present
Kino Defending O'odham People Before Viceroy of New Spain
Protector of Indigenous People
Dr. Edward H. Spicer
"Cycles of Conquest"
Kino began the work of missionization of the Upper Pimas [O'odham] and thus had the advantage of a long period of almost singlehanded building of social relationships between them and the Spaniards of the region. He built his own personality into these relationships.
Typical of Kino's finding of good will on the part of the Pimas wherever he went is the statement in a letter of 1687 describing his first tour of duty: "In all places they received with love the word of God for the sake of their eternal salvation." But this was not merely an expression of first enthusiasm in a new task, for in the following year he was even more enthusiastic: "God willing, hundreds, and later thousands will be gathered into the bosom of our sweet, most holy Mother Church, for about five thousand of the neighboring Indians have come asking at this time with most ardent pleading for holy baptism. They envy the happy lot of those in the three new settlements."
And again five years after the first, of a visit to the Sobaipuris on the San Pedro River, he wrote "Captain Coro and the rest of them received me with all kindness." Two years later of a trip to the Gila Pimas, he wrote: "All were affable and docile people." In 1696 with nearly ten years of missionary work behind him and after previous visits to and work with the Sobaipuris of the Santa Cruz Valley, he wrote that at Bac he was "received with all love by the many inhabitants of the great ranchería and by many other principal men, who had gathered from various parts adjacent."
In 1698 he again wrote after a trip through the whole Papago country that he was "grateful for the great affability and cheerfulness of everybody whom we met." And so it went throughout his life until he died in Pima country at Magdalena. Wherever he went, according to his accounts, among Pimas or Yumans, his reception was warm and hearty and he came away with feelings of great friendliness. He apparently was able to charm and to be charmed by all the Indians, whether on first visits or in the missions where they knew him well.
At the bottom of Kino's pleasant and easy relations with the Indians seems to have been a tolerant spirit. Not only has he left no record whatever of suppression of Indian ceremony, but in his writings there is no particular concern with Indian ways as evil. He does not inveigh against drunkenness, which was a common ceremonial practice among the Upper Pimas, as it was among the Tarahumaras. He spends no words on condemnation even of Pima witches.
One would think that somehow he managed to remain blandly unaware of the existence of Indian ceremonial life away from the missions, if it were not for the fact that there are accounts of all-night dances and other ceremonies which took place at villages where be spent the night or visited for a period. Many such all-night gatherings with dances and music he evidently felt honored by, believing (probably correctly in some instances) that they were given in his honor.
Moreover, he gives a one-paragraph account of a scalp dance among the Sobaipuris, saying: "We found the Pima natives of Quiburi very jovial and friendly. They were dancing over the scalps and the spoils of fifteen enemies, Hocomes and Janos; whom they had killed a few days before. This was so pleasing to us that Captain …. Bernal, the Alferez, the Sergeant and many others entered the circle and danced merrily in company with the natives." This of course was a situation in which the Spaniards were delighted to celebrate a victory over mutual enemies, the eastern tribes associated with the Apaches, but it is also characteristic of the pleasant and noncritical way in which Kino took note of and sat in the midst of so many native ceremonials.
He almost never permitted himself to be even mildly critical of native practices, if indeed it actually bothered him. Such tolerance must have made him welcome everywhere and caused him to be viewed only as a constructive bringer of new good tidings and never as one who was prepared to destroy what the people already had.
There was also a certain amount of give and take in his relations with the headmen of the many Pima villages which he visited. Repeatedly he describes how he sat and talked for hours in such villages. What he said must have had a great deal of interest; an example is the following - describing his visit to Bac in 1692 - which shows his teaching methods very clearly:
"I spoke to them of the word of God, and on the map of the world I showed them the lands, the rivers, and the seas over which we fathers had come from afar to bring them the saving knowledge of our Holy Faith. I told them also how in ancient times the Spaniards were not Christian, how Santiago came to teach them the faith, and how the first fourteen years he was able to baptize only a few, because of which the Holy Apostle was discouraged, but that the Holy Virgin appeared to him and consoled him, promising that the Spaniards would convert the rest of the people of the world. "
"And I showed them on the map of the world how the Spaniards and the Faith had come by sea to Vera Cruz and had gone into Puebla and to Mexico, Guadalajara, Sinaloa, Sonora and now to ... Dolores del Cosari, in the land of the Pimas ... that they could go and see it all, and even ask at once their relatives, my servants, who were with me. They listened with pleasure to these and other talks concerning God, heaven, and hell, told me that they wished to be Christians, and gave me some infants to baptize."
This was, of course, the general method of teaching and preaching of the Jesuits. Certainly Kino was merely one of many capable missionary teachers who knew how to employ concrete demonstration, in this case maps and charts, and to spice the doctrine with history, and even to meet the skeptics with reference to Christianized Indians who could be questioned right there in their own tongue about it all. These merely show that Kino was capable in the missionary teaching tradition.
His special genius was his capacity to sit down immediately afterwards and listen to the Pima headmen. Over and over again in his accounts, he tells how he was invited to sit through a night or even two days and nights in which be must have done as much listening as talking, Thus in 1700 on one of his trips among the Yumas, he was persuaded to stay, even though he had wanted to push on, because people wished to hear him. He preached in his usual way. Then, he says, "These talks, ours and theirs, lasted almost the whole afternoon and afterward till midnight, with very great pleasure to all." He was not annoyed by having been put off schedule; rather he relaxed and enjoyed a day of mutual give and take.
How much he understood, even though he always had interpreters with him, we shall never know, nor are we sure of his attitude about the content of the long talks of the Indian spokesmen. He never mentions the content unless it had some direct bearing on his mapping interests or the building of the mission chain. But at any rate he behaved in a way, at very great cost in time, which was regarded as courteous and must have made him a delightful guest. He behaved in this respect. in fact, in the way that any visiting headman among the Indians was expected to behave. Long talks by all parties were the rule, but they must not be one-sided - and this Kino seemed instinctively to understand.
Another of Kino's qualities, which was not by any means unique among the missionaries, but most abundantly developed in him, was that of organizing ability. He believed in gathering people together for particular and dramatic purposes. He showed his ability for this when Chief Coxi was baptized at Dolores shortly after the founding of that mission. Kino made it the occasion for inviting other Pima headmen from far to the west where he had made a beginning at contacts and five attended. He also brought "Spanish gentlemen" from the mining town of Bacanuche to the ceremony.
This sort of thing he continued to do on a grander scale as time went on. He brought hundreds of people from all over the Upper Pima country to the dedication of the church when it was finished at Dolores. He brought a large group of Pima headmen from the Santa Cruz and San Pedro valleys and elsewhere to Dolores and then had them go on a pilgrimage through the northern Opata country to have an audience with the Father Visitor at Bacerac and ask for missionaries to be sent to their villages.
He called meetings at Bac and other Pima villages to discuss his interest in the problem of whether California was an island or not. His accounts indicate that he got great responses in such meetings and that he participated in the discussions rather than addressed the groups. He had some sort of genius for getting people to do things together and this must have been an important factor in establishing communication among Upper Pimas who had been isolated from one another before.
It would seem, however, that it was Kino's personal characteristics - his enthusiasm, his warmth of feeling for individuals such as Captain Coro, Coxi, and others with whom he became associated, his tolerance of ways not in accord with European, his delight in big and ceremonial gatherings - rather than any inclination or ability to understand other ways and reconcile them that lay at the bottom of his successes in the Pima country.
Dr. Edward H. Spicer
The Spanish Program
"Cycles of Conquest: The Impact of Spain, Mexico and the United States on the Indians of the Southwest 1533-1960" 1962
Pages 315 - 317
To Download Excerpt
Click Kino Missionary
Online in Spanish
"Kino Biography's of Father Saeta, S.J."
"Vida del P. Francisco J. Saeta, S.J
Sangre Misionera En Sonora"
"Vida del P. Francisco J. Saeta, S.J. - Sangre Misionera En Sonora".
by Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J 1696
Spanish text by Dr. Ernest J. Burrus, S.J with introduction in Spanish and English.
For 1961 Book in Spanish with Introduction in Spanish and English:
Digitzed by Princeton Theological Seminary Library
Title in English
"Kino Biography's of Father Saeta, S.J" 1971
by Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J. 1696
Original Spanish text editied by Dr. Ernest J. Burrus, S.J. with introduction and notes
Epilogue by Charles W. Polzer, S.J
For 1971 Book in both English and Spanish
Available soon online
"Kino's Biography of Francisco Javier Saeta"
Editor Note: Padre Kino organized a peace conference between the Native People and the Spanish military in August 1695 that ended six months of warfare in the Altar Valley. In the following 2 months Kino wrote a book about the life of martyred Father Saeta who was killed at the mission of Caborca on Holy Saturday in the beginning hours of the violence. The book is now referred to as "Kino's Biography of Francisco Javier Saeta" and provides a very early description of modern missionary methods.
The purpose of the book was to explain why the violence erupted so that the Native People would be protected from any further reprisals based on false rumors circulated by powerful interests who coveted the mission lands and Native labor.
The book describes the life of the Father Saeta, a young Italian missionary, and the events surrounding his death. Also the book contains Padre Kino's missiology or philosophy about conducting missionary work. Although Father Saeta served as a missionary for only six months, Kino presents his own philosophy as if it they were Saeta's opinions by constantly writing "Father Saeta used to say."
The book was used as part of Kino's defense of his beloved Native People and his own missionary career against the powerful interests who opposed him . After riding 1,200 miles in seven weeks from his mission headquarters to Mexico City, Kino appeared in January 1696 before the highest of officials and successfully advocated for his return to the Pimería Alta.
After Kino returned to the missions, his work was further supported by the head of the Jesuit order, Father General Gonzales, who wrote from Rome to Kino's New World superior "I am convinced that Kino is a chosen instrument of Our Lord for His cause in those missions."
Kino in writing about the causes of the violence concludes "it is evident that the treatment of the Natives in the Pimería has been very unjust— leading as it has to mistreatment, torture and murder." Book 3 Chapter 1
To view and download historical background of the Saeta Biography,
Click Saeta History.
Excerpts from "Kino's Biography of Francisco Javier Saeta"
"Opinions about the Missionary Apostolate
By Venerable Francisco Javier Saeta,
Taken From His Letters and Religious Conversations"
"As Venerable Father Francisco Javier Saeta used to say that a missionary among new peoples needed special talents, temperament and vocation. There is no doubt that a keen sense of charity is worth more here than anything else. The missionary must conduct himself toward these poor natives wholly in and through Christ. He must handle new conversions with a genuine knack, being capable of accepting suffering while he works hard and maintains a sense of tolerance.These qualities are more valuable than other human talents, skills, sophistication, eloquence, ingenuity or advanced and subtle science...
In our opinion the very origin of new conversions springs from where there exists a strong and loving concern for the temporal and spiritual welfare of impoverished and destitute people, even though they may be downtrodden, misguided, and persecuted outcasts.
Kino's Biography of Javier Francisco Saeta
Book 8 Chapter 2
"And we must remember, especially for new missionary works, that it was said: "Go among the rejected peoples" (Isaiah 15:2), so that the missionaries will take up the strenuous task of instructing, teaching, and training in spiritual as well as temporal matters.Such work calls for hardiness, patience, and tolerance; if the missionary is to succeed in fashioning any decent, skillful, gentle, and affable children, these virtues are demanded.
But this is neither well nor sufficiently achieved when one sits perched on his chair ordering subordinates or Indian officials to do what we should be doing personally by sitting down time and again with them on earthen floors or on a rock."
Kino's Biography of Javier Francisco Saeta
Book 8 Chapter 1
"Indians in a new mission are great newsmongers. Whatever good or evil they learn is immediately spread far and wide.
Indians who live far away, even in the more remote sectors, inquire about the missionary priest. They want to know what he does, what he says, what he gives, what he wears and carries, what he teaches, how he speaks, etc. Very many Indians who live a great distance from the Fathers know who they are.
They know whatever they do and say, and they form their own opinions and ideas about them. They will say that a certain Father is good, another is liberal, or that this is the style of this one and that one. "I will take my sons to be baptized by him," etc.
I have traveled deep within the Indian territory where I have met Indians who claim that they have already come to know me in places still farther away, although we certainly have never seen one another before."
Kino's Biography of Javier Francisco Saeta
Book 8 Chapter 4
"Teatro de Los Trabajos"
Kino's Map with His Biography of Saeta
"Kino's Biography of Francisco J. Saeta, S.J."
Dr. Ernest J. Burrus, S.J.
Summary and Synopsis
The reader finds in Kino's monograph on Saeta both less than the term "life" or "biography" indicates and also very much more than the word implies. It is less than the traditional biography inasmuch as it omits those details of Saeta's life that would usually find a prominent place in such a literary genre. This is even more true of the manuscript as left us by Kino. In presenting chronologically sixteen vignettes of as many Jesuit missionaries who met with violent death at the hands of the natives of northern Mexico, Kino logically reserves the last and most prominent place for Saeta. But he never came around to filling in the blank page other duties and other interests claimed his time and attention.
In the present edition, appearing on the 276th anniversary of Saeta's death and of the composition of the biography, we have endeavored to supply as far as possible the details omitted by the author. This we strive to do both in this Introduction and more briefly in the series of vignettes just alluded to.
But Kino's biography of Saeta, despite its brevity, is also very much more than just another life of another missionary. It is the detailed and fully documented history of one of the most significant religious expansions in the Americas, with the consequent enlargement politically and culturally of the same vast territory. When Kino reached Pimería Alta (present northern Sonora and the State of Arizona), the northernmost rim of Christendom (the chain of established missions as also Spanish military and civil control) ran from Batepito through Chuchuta (just south of the site of the historic presidio of Fronteras to be erected a few years later), Bacoache and  Bacanuche, and then southward to Cucurpe on the route to Tuape and Opodepe.
In the years that Kino evangelized and explored Pimería Alta, he added an extensive region to New Spain: westward to the Gulf of California, northwestward to and beyond the junction of the Gila and Colorado Rivers, northward to Casa Grande and even beyond as far as the Río Azul, eastward along the Río San Jose de Terrenate (later called the San Pedro River). As Saeta was assassinated in 1695 and Kino composed the bulk of the biography in the course of the same year, the span of time dealt with is necessarily a brief one - 1687 to 1695, with an exceptional wealth of details for the years 1694 and 1695.
The life of Saeta is Kino's only serious attempt at biography, and after the "Favores Celestiales" his longest composition. It shows greater unity and degree of completion than the latter work. The biography taught Kino a decisive lesson in historical composition, namely the preservation und use of primary sources. A considerable portion of the book is the reproduction of correspondence of Saeta, and of religious and military leaders with Kino. The preservation of such documentation became with Kino a life-long habit; and later, when he came to prepare the "Favores Celestiales" for the press, he had at hand his own archive of precious source material.
In the Saeta biography, turbulent and confused events are disengaged and presented clearly, with sufficient background, evident cause and affect. The few guilty are clearly distinguished from the numerous innocent, an important distinction that had its practical consequences in the treatment meted out by military officials and in the ultimate pacification of the region, as well as in the decision of the highest ecclesiastical authorities to step up rather than abandon the evangelization of the area.
To help the reader follow his narrative more closely, Kino drew two very accurate maps of the entire region which in themselves are important landmarks in the cartography of Mexico: 1) the "Teatro de los Trabajos Apostólicos" (the superb original in colors is preserved in the Jesuit Central Archives in Rome and is reproduced in black and white in Bolton, [7 ] "Rim of Christendom," 272; and, in the original colors, by Burrus, KC, Plate VIII); and 2) the "Muerte del Venerable Padre Francisco Xavier Saeta" (the original, likewise in colors. is preserved in the same Jesuit Archives, and has also been reproduced in black and white in Bolton, "Rim", 290; and, in the original colors, by Burrus, KC, Plate IX. We have chosen from this map the death scene of Saeta for the Frontispiece of the present volume).
The biography deals with the following topics, listed according to the seven extant books:
1) The coming of Saeta to Caborca.
2) The second period of his work in the same mission.
3) His assassination.
4) An important series of original documents reproduced verbatim, on the optimistic outlook for the future of the region despite the violent death of Saeta, and 15 biographical sketches of earlier missionaries who met a like fate at the hands of the natives without necessitating abandoning the missions. The 16th biographical sketch is that of Saeta.
5) The military efforts to pacify the rebellious natives and the effective cooperation of the friendly natives, but also a tragic mistake with disastrous consequences.
6) The present prosperous state of the missions in Pimería Alta; the historical background; Kino's arrival in the area, his work and success. Special emphasis is given to the objections urged by many against continuance of the missions in the area.
7) The last book is unique in the history of Mexico. It is a presentation of the missionary methods employed by Saeta and still more by Kino and a penetrating analysis of the mental and emotional world of the Pima Indians and their reactions to the teachings and demands of Christianity.
A brief word about each of these topics.
In the First Book Kino develops the narrative by an exact historical account of events, specifying dates, places, distances, and actors in the moving drama of which he himself is the most important. We are given an accurate and detailed explanation of the economic status; the number of cattle donated to the mission of Caborca, even what grains and vegetables were planted and thrived there; what buildings were  erected; what expeditions had been undertaken. So specific and circumstantial are the data furnished that one can only conclude that Kino kept an exact diary on which he later drew to compose his biography of Saeta.
In the Second Book Kino relies on a series of letters from Saeta to furnish him with a detailed and reliable account of the events in the second period of the missionary's work at Caborca. In this book we are already given some of the missionary methods employed by Saeta that will be developed at length in the last book.
Book Three is more than a mere recital of the assassination of Saeta; it is a penetrating analysis of the causes that brought it about, with practical suggestions for remedying the situation and preventing its repetition in the future. Kino rejects the false accusation that all the Indians are involved. He proves from numerous sources that the main motive was the injustice and cruelty inflicted on the Indians of San Pedro de Tubutama, particularly the treatment meted out by the Opata overseers; the Pimas were unjustly accused of theft - Kino will often return to the theme - with consequent vexations, cruelty, and deaths caused among them by the invading Spanish troops; further, the Indians of San Antonio de Oquitoa joined in the raid on Caborca because they felt deceived and insulted by the numerous false promises made to them and never kept, particularly that missionaries would be sent to them. Saeta's own charges - children (hijos) Kino calls them - were not guilty of his death, nor were they involved in the rebellion, but rather victims of it.
Book Four, despite its unfinished stage of composition, is one of the most carefully worked out of all Kino's writings. He not only cites countless letters from military and religious officials to prove that he is correct in holding that only a few of the Indians participated in the raid on Caborca - and then only after they were induced by the injustice and cruelty committed against them - but he shows that all these officials were optimistic about the future. To give solid historical basis to his contention, Kino dips deep into Mexican history, drawing vignettes of 15 other missionaries who gave their lives  for the same cause and yet their missions were not abandonded but were flourishing today. Why, then, he asks, should anyone want to follow a different policy in regard to Saeta and his missions?
Book Five is a clear account of the campaigns to pacify the rebellious natives and to punish the guilty. He devotes a chapter to the cooperation of the friendly Indians. Kino manfully relates the tragic mistakes of some of the Spanish soldiers and their Indian allies resulting in the massacre of innocent natives and consequent raids on other missions. This frankness may account for the fact that the Saeta biography did not find its way into print during Kino's lifetime.
Book Six is a minute account of the state of the missions and of the area in general. He devotes most of this part of the volume to facing squarely the objections raised against the continuance and extension of the missions in the north. Kino realized that the future of the entire region was at stake. Let us remember that he wrote on this topic on the very eve of his departure for Mexico City, where, as he knew, everyone there from the Viceroy and the Provincial of the Jesuits down would urge these objections against him when he came to beg for funds and more manpower.
To come to the objections. It was claimed that Pimería Alta had no native population or at best a few scattered Indians. Kino answers that the region had more than 10,000; and then goes into specific figures for various localities.
But, insisted the opponents, if there are a few wretched natives, the whole region is one interminable desert. To answer this objection, Kino has the written testimony of Spanish officials; he has exact statistics on the amount and kind of produce; and concludes with the triumphant boast: "This Pimería of ours is in the category of the most fertile and productive lands in all of New Spain - Esta Pimería es de las más fértiles y pingues tierras que tiene toda la Nueva España".
Enemies and opponents of the Pimería enterprise had spread the claim that the natives were incurably lazy and could never be taught to work. For those who insisted on certified and notarized documents, Kino has a supply of them; for those who clamored for visible proof of the natives' ability to work, he pointed to what they had already accomplished at Dolores  and other mission centers in constructing houses and churches and in planting fields and harvesting the abundant crops.
But, surely, insisted the opponents, the Indians of the province are born thieves, and work is at best only an occasion al necessity with them. This calumny Kino must thoroughly refute; and in order to do so, he uses a three-fold argument: first, despite all the surprise forays of the Spanish military forces into Pima territory, not the least indication of theft was ever found; secondly, the Generals Juan Fernandez de la Fuente and Domingo Teran de los Ríos during the month of June 1695 did uncover stolen property in possession of the Hojomes at Cerro de Chiricahui, but these Indians are the enemies not the allies of the Pimas; thirdly, the Pimas cultivate their fields and live off the produce, whereas the Hojomes, the Janos and the Sumas are nomadic tribes unaccustomed to work, who find it more agreeable to loot and steal horses, mules, and cattle.
The last objection is an economic one: namely, that the missions and the settling of the North were a heavy strain on the royal treasury. This is an objection, answered Kino, that could be used against any region; what are we to do, stop colonizing and evangelizing in order to save a few pesos? I'll cite in full, says Kino, the royal decree that states that the advantages of establishing missions far outweigh the expenses involved. Who would dare doubt the King's word?
Kino now comes to the last [Book 8] and by far most valuable book for the student of the history of Mexico and the American Southwest for it furnishes him with the key to Kino's methods of winning over the natives, of his being able to travel among them even unescorted when he so chose, of securing their cooperation in evangelizing the area far beyond the limits its of his own mission, of securing their confidence, allegiance, loyalty, trust, and devotion to a degree unparalleled in the mission annals of Mexico.
As I think is evident, the biography of Saeta by Kino is more than the life story of one man. It is the detailed and documented history of the entire region with the political, economic, ethnological, military, geographical, and ecclesiastical phases minutely presented and analyzed.
Overview of Missionary Efforts in the Spanish New World
Dr. Luke Clossey
The missionary effort in the Spanish New World was one of the greatest religious and humanitarian endeavors for the times. Dr. Luke Clossey discusses the challenges and the historical context in his article "The Missionary Enterprise: An Overview"
To view, click Missionary Enterprise.
Additional Articles on Kino's Missionary Philosophy
Missiology of Kino
Charles E. O'Neil, S.J..
Kino's Method of Evangelization
Charles Polzer, S.J.
Edward H. Spicer
Medicine Man Kino Providing
Physical and Spiritual Care
Missionary Doctor and Pharmacist
In the relative absence of pre-Columbian epidemics, native cultures in the northwestern Mexico and Paraguay had few elaborated behaviors and beliefs to deal with unprecedented diseases wrought by maladies such as small pox. … The fact that the Jesuits coupled prayer with clinical care of the sick also empowered them …
Dr. Daniel T. Reff
"The Jesuit Mission Frontier: The Reductions of the Río de la Plata and the Missions of Northwestern Mexico 1588-1700" in "Contested Ground: Comparative Frontiers on the Northern and Southern Edges of the Spanish Empire"
To view Dr. Reff's entire article online
Click Contested Ground
"The Jesuit Missionary in the Role of Physician"
Dr. Theodore E. Treutlien
Perhaps more important than any of the Jesuit misaionary's other non- religious functions was his performance in the role of physician to the Spaniards and Indians who resided in his mission district. Father Pfefferkorn's observations about the care of the sick and about the sicknesses found among Sonorans, reveal him to have been a man who ombined in varying proportions a pseudo-scientific knowledge of illnesses and their cures with an eminently "common sense" practicality.
The plant and mineral kingdoms of Sonora were believed to contain countless healing materials and antidotes for a wide variety of maladies and poisons. There is at least the implication in Pfefferkorn's description or these medicaments that in Sonora God had been particularly beneficent in compensating for the lack of "doctors, surgeons, and apothecaries" with a plentiful supply of health promoting agencies.
'I'he juice of mescal leaves was considered an infallible antiscorbutic: the root of the same plant healed wounds, while spirits distilled from the root were used as a stormach tonic. With mescal spirits Pfefferkorn cured his own stomach which had been unsettled for six months. Spaniards who had the equipment for the distIllation of mescal spirits charged an exorbitant price for the liquid. …..
Theodore E. Treutlien
The Jesuit Missionaries in the Role of Physician
"Mid-America" 22, no. 2 (April 1940) pg. 120–41.
To view and download entire article
Click Jesuit Physician
"Healing on the Edge: The Construction of Medicine
on the Jesuit Frontier of Northern New Spain"
This article examines historical, ethnographic, and archival records to portray how medicine and healing were constructed in this frontier region during the Jesuit period (1617-1767), and the influence of Jesuit philosophy and practice on local medicinal practice. Chambers and Gillespie (2000:228) argue that a geographic region can constitute a "scientific locality" when there exists "a local frame of reference in which we may usefully examine the role of knowledge construction and inculcation." I maintain that colonial Sonora during the Jesuit period constitutes its own scientific, and specifically medical, locality due to three primary factors: ( 1 ) the influence and healing perspective of the erudite and scientifically minded Jesuit missionaries, (2) the area's geographical isolation, and (3) the biopharmaceutical composition of the arid northwest. The available historical record reveals that these three factors interacted to necessitate and encourage the continued use of regional healing substances and practices in concert with imported modalities. Due to the dearth of medical informants from the era, much of the information in this article comes from the broader region of Sonora rather than O'odham territories specifically. Nonetheless, the regional experience of fusing medical techniques and theories is applicable to the O'odham, and the second section of this article will employ a modern ethnographic resource (Bahr et al. 1974) to focus the discussion more specifically on what we can glean about the O'odham historical experience. If we take as true Porter's (1985:192) statement that "health is the backbone of social history," the hypothesis forwarded here is not just important in the realm of healing, but also in the field of regional processes of cultural change and continuity.
The Interaction of Culture Contact, Geography, and Biology
The isolation and apparent desolation of Sonora spelled cultural isolation from the colonial core for a long period following initial exploration of the region by Spanish military parties during the 1540s and 1560s. When European penetration of the area was reinitiated, it took place largely under the auspices of Spain's newest religious order, the Society of Jesus. Whereas the church and state served as "dual columns of royal authority" on the frontier (Radding 1997:11), the institution of the Jesuit mission was the primary foreign influence on local cultural order (see also Sheridan 1992; Valdés Aguilar 2009). The Jesuits distinguished themselves from their fellow religious brethren by refusing tithes, declining to wear the habit, applying themselves to learning the languages of their converts, and educating themselves in the sciences. Many Jesuits on the northern frontier became prolific chroniclers of American natural history, including Manuel Aguirre, Juan de Esteyneffer, Juan Nentvig, Joseph Och, Ignaz Pfefferkorn, Andrés Pérez de Ribas, Hernando de Santarén, Luis Xavier Velarde, and Miguel Venegas, several of whom ministered to or traveled through O'odham territory.
In response to widespread interest in botanical cures, the Jesuits developed what Anagnostou (2007) refers to as a "worldwide drug transfer," in which missionaries from China, India, Japan, the Philippines, and Spanish America interchanged knowledge and materia medica. They took inspiration particularly in natural history, not only for its practical applications to knowledge expansion and healing, but because, on a higher scale, they believed that God's love was embodied in nature's bounty (Acosta 1962). Anagnostou (2007:294) maintains that, "according to Jesuit philosophy and spirituality, nature reflected God's omnipotence and divine providence. To describe and explore nature was, therefore, one way of worshipping God." According to Harris (2005), this predilection to see God in nature opened the minds of Jesuits throughout the world to more readily incorporate and accept the healing traditions they encountered. What is more, as the most educated of the European religious orders, many Jesuits took seriously the mandate to learn indigenous languages as a means to decipher how the order in language reflects the order in customs and culture, a process that then forced them to "contemplate alternative truths" (Reff 1999:36).
Jesuit interest in healing knowledge was compounded by a firmly held belief that "the bodies of their spiritual charges should be aided along with their souls" (Kay 1996:25). The Jesuits held an "activist" approach to missionization, in which the role of healing or witnessing illness was deemed more important than a night spent in isolated prayer (Reff 1999). Jesuit preoccupation with illness and remedy was evidenced in the essays on missionary life they left behind, which addressed sickness, doctoring, and specifically their own roles as physicians. Ignaz Pfefferkorn (1949:178), for example, in his Sonora: A Description of the Province, wrote of his missionary years that "the vigilant care of the sick was one of the most important concerns of the missionary." Missionary chroniclers report having traveled long distances in harsh and uncertain conditions to attend to the sick and baptize the terminally ill lest they be left to take their last breath as "sinners." The report of Captain Juan Mateo Manje (1701), who accompanied Father Eusebio Francisco Kino on many missions of discovery through O'odham territory, noted such activities, stating that "the father rector was confessing the sick and catechizing others in order to baptize them, for they are currently [suffering] from the epidemic commonly called "pitiflor". A sick man died the following night without baptism, [causing] the father great sorrow because he had not counseled him. ...."
Healing on the Edge
The Construction of Medicine on the Jesuit Frontier of Northern New Spain
Journal of the Southwest
July 1, 2014
To read entire article online
By Kino Co-worker Brother Esteyneffer
Medical Guide for Missionaries And 300 Years of Folk Medicine
Three Books: Medicine, Surgery and Drugs
One of the most important daily non-religious work of the missionary was the missionary's role as a medical doctor. So great was Jesuit involvement in "care of the sick" in the missions that the Jesuits sought and received a papal exemption from the ban on clerics serving in medical roles. Jesuits who assisted the sick and dying were called "Father Operarios Dr. Treutline identifies Jesuit Brother Juan de Esteyneffer, the author of the Florilegio Medicinal, by his European name - Johann Steinefer. Brother Juan's last name also is recorded as Steinhoffer..
The Florilegio Medicinal is one of the most influential medical guides in Latin America. Jesuit Brother Juan de Esteyneffer was a co-worker of Kino's in Sonora. Brother Juan joined Kino on the trail and helped with the preparations for the arrival at Tubutama of the new missionary Padre Minutuli. For many years Brother Juan traveled to the other Sonoran missions teaching the indigenous people herbal medicine.
Florilegio Medicinal was an instructional medical guide combining European medical knowledge with knowledge of Native herbs and other medicinals of Mexico. Written in an understandable and accessible language, it is composed of three sections: Medicine, Surgery, and Drugs.
Florilegio Medicinal was first published in 1712, the year following Kino's death. It's popularity resulted in its reprinting four times during the 18th century and again in the 19th and 20th century. It was still being used as late as the 1970's by some folk healers in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. To view the guide, click Forilegio Medicinal.
Brother Esteyneffer was born in Europe. He was assigned to the Pimería Alta and ministered at Tubutama in 1703. He also served in other missions in today's Sonoran towns of Vecora, Matape, Tecoripa, Arizpe and Sinoquipe. He died in Tecóra in 1716.
The Jesuit contribution of new medicines and drugs to the world's pharmacy are legendary. The most famous was "Jesuit's Bark" (cinchona bark or quinine) which was the first effective drug to treat malaria. The Jesuit missionaries in Peru were taught the healing power of the bark by Native people between 1620 and 1630. The Jesuits then synthesized the bark and distributed the medicine throughout the world. Jesuit bark was used as the primary treatment for malaria up to the 1940s. For more information, click Jesuit Bark.
Kino Receives A Mother's Thanks on the Colorado
"And in this journey inland, as in my preceding one of the past month of November, they received the word of God with so much appreciation that they gave me many infants to baptize. Of the two little ones whom I had baptized in the preceding journey inland, this time the mother of one, called Thyrso Gonzales, brought him to me, for, having recovered, he was fat and healthy. Many other mothers also brought me their children, asking me to baptize them …."
Eusebio Franicsco Kino
March 2, 1702
Kino's Historical Memoirs
Volume I, page 349
Edtor Note: Kino's many diary entries describe his taking detours from his planned routes to baptize and care for the sick and dying. A mother expressed her gratitude to Kino for healing her infant son on his fourth and final trip to the Colorado, On this trip four thousand Native people from the various Colorado River tribes came to see Kino near today's San Luis - many swimming across the Colorado River at its high spring flow. The next day Kino would travel to the Colorado River Delta and prove his hypotheisis that California was not an island as commonly then believed. His proof of an overland route to the recently revived California missions could have made Kino's supply of them easier.
Kino's Drawing of Our Lady of Guadalupe
From His Sky Map of the Comet's Path
Exposición Astronómica del Cometa
Writings about Kino's Work
Kino Dedicates His Missionary Life to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Señora de ambos Orbes María, Madre de Dios del Titulo Advocación, y Renombre del Mexicano Guadalupe, a quien consagro mis suceíos, y sucesos, y pongo la contingencia que puedo correr con los demas mortales, para que con su poderosissimo Patrocinio seguro de las comunes azechanzas de este mundo, llegue a conseguir la celeste patria donde se lleva quando a y de delicia, menos la mudanca, y alternada sucesion de las cosas, Omnia ad majorem Dei, Dei pareque honorem amorem, et gloriam.
Eusebio Franciso Kino, S.J.
"Exposición Astronómica del Cometa" 1681
Written in 1681 - Last words of Kino's astronomical treatise written immediately before he leaves to begin his 30 years of mission work on and beyond the Spanish frontier.Kino names his first of 25 missions and visting stations in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe at La Paz, Baja California de Sur.
Top Jesuit Orders Kino Return
Letter from Jesuit Father General in Rome
Your predecessor withdrew Father Kino from the missions; the missionary himself has written to me from Mexico City. He has been led to believe that he was summoned to report on the missions and to discuss with the Viceroy the means of reactivating the California enterprise. But the letters of your predecessor state that the real motive was to get him out of the missions and keep him in the Province.
If this is so, I cannot possibly approve such a decision, inasmuch as it deprives those missions of a most devoted worker who has toiled there with untiring zeal and boundless enthusiasm. Such has been his success that were he now employed at other tasks, he should be freed from them, and sent to the missions; so far am I from approving your withdrawing him from them!
Accordingly, Your Reverence will let him return without fail to the missions of the Pima Indians so that he can continue to work among them, unless the renewed entrance into California has received approval; in which case, he is to go there, taking with him the fellow missionaries he need for so wonderful an enterprise.
Now, I find two main charges against Father Kino; in fact, they are the only charges ever brought against him. The first is that, carried away by his enthusiasm and zeal, he is superficial in his work, hurrying as he does from one task to another. It is said that he baptizes the natives without sufficient instruction in their obligations as Christians. If we consider how much Saint Francis Xavier attempted in such a short span of time, we must admit that saints use quite a different yardstick from the one applied with such caution by ordinary mortals; for them the might of God has no limits. I am convinced that if superiors do point out some specific fault to Father Kino, he will amend it and follow their instructions.
The second charge brought against him is that he is excessively severe on his fellow workers. Now, from the evidence which reaches us in Rome, this charge is utterly unfounded. First, because no one has ever complained about him; secondly, because there is scarcely anyone in all the foreign missions who speaks with greater deference and respect of other missionaries; nor does anyone ever show greater kindness than Kino. Such evidence, then, utterly destroys any charge of harshness towards his fellow workers.
Accordingly, Your Reverences will allow him to return to the missions. You will let him work there, "inasmuch as the just man is not to be hemmed in by any law". I am convinced that Kino is a chosen instrument of Our Lord for His cause in those missions.
Father Tirso Gonzalez
Father General of the Jesuit Order
Letter to Jesuit Provincial of New Spain
July 28, 1696
Editor Note: Father General Gonzales was the worldwide head of the Jesuit Order. After Kino brought peace to the southwestern Pimeria Alta after the Tubatama Uprising of 1696, Kino was called to Mexico City by his New World superiors in an effort to end his career as a missionary. Based on Gonzales' letter of support, Kino was permitted to continue his work in the Pimeria Alta. As part of Kino's petition to remain in the missions, he wrote "The Biography of Father Saeta" which is the basis of modern missiology or the theory and practice of mission work. The second complaint addressed by the Father General that Kino was excessively severe on his fellow workers may have arisen from Kino's Father Saeta biography. One can speculate as to the dire condition of the Pima people that would have resulted without Padre Kino's presence if he would not have been allowed to return and work with them for the last 16 years of his life.
Kino Looks Back on His Work in the Pimería Alta
"In general, in these twenty-one years, up to the present time, I have made from the first pueblo of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores more than forty expeditions to the north, west, northwest, and southwest, of fifty, eighty, one hundred, two hundred, and more leagues, sometimes accompanied by other Fathers, but most of the time with only my servants and with the Governors, Captains, and Caciques of different rancherias or incipient pueblos from here and from the interior ....
With all these expeditions or missions which have been made to a distance of two hundred leagues in these new heathendoms in these twenty-one years, there have been brought to our friendship and to the desire of receiving our Holy Catholic faith, between Pimas, Cocomaricopas, Yumas, Quiquimas, etc., more than thirty thousand souls, there being sixteen thousand Pimas alone. I have solemnized more than four thousand baptisms, and I could have baptized ten or twelve thousand Indians more if the lack of Father Laborers had not rendered it impossible for us to catechise them and instruct them in advance. But if Our Lord sends, by means of his Royal Majesty and of the Superiors, the necessary Fathers for so great and so ripe a harvest of souls, it will not be difficult, God willing, to achieve the Holy Baptism of all these souls and of very many others, on the very populous Colorado River, as well as in California Alta, and at thirty-two degrees latitude and thereabouts, for this very great Colorado River has its origin at fifty-two degrees latitude."
Eusebio Fransico Kino, S. J.
Kino's Historical Memoir of Pimeria Alta, II, pp. 243, 252
Written in 1708 - 3 years before his death in March 1711
Mission de Nuestra Senora del Dolores
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