Sunday, October 14, 2012


Mahonri Young-Tucson
Sticking with our theme we once again present a saint who worked with the indigenous peoples in the USA.  SERVANT of GOD EUSEBIO FRANCISCO KINO, S.J. Even thought he lived over 400 years ago we know much about his life due to the many letters he wrote, his humanity and love of Christ, and his fame which spread among the peoples he taught and cared for.

Father Kino was born Eusebius Franz Kühn ( Kino in Spanish). His parents were Franz Kühn  and Margherita Luchi. The exact date of his birth is unknown but he was baptized on 10 August 1645 in the parish church, near Trent, Northern Italy. He was educated in Innsbruck, Austria. He became seriously ill at college in 1663 and made a vow to God that he would become a Jesuit and serve in the foreign missions as St. Francis Xavier had done if he recovered. Eusebio did recover and in gratitude to God’s goodness, he added Francis to his name. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1665, receiving religious training at Freiburg, Ingolstadt, and Landsberg, Bavaria.

Germán Orozco Mora

 After completing a final stage of training in the Society, he taught mathematics. He was so competent in mathematics that the duke of Bavaria offered him a full professorship at Ingolstadt which he turned down as his heart was on the missions. He was ordained in 1677 and was sent to New Spain.

Father Kino's first assignment was to lead the Atondo expedition to the Baja California peninsula of the Las Californias Province of New Spain. He established the Misión San Bruno in 1683. After a prolonged drought there in 1685, Father Kino and the Jesuit missionaries were forced to abandon the mission and return to Mexico City.

In 1687 Padre Kino arrived in the Pimería Alta, at the request of the natives and quickly established the first mission in a river valley in the mountains of Sonora. He followed ancient trading routes established millennia prior by the natives. These trails were later expanded into roads. His many expeditions on horseback covered over 50,000 square miles, during which he mapped an area 200 miles long and 250 miles wide.

Padre Kino helped in the economic growth of  the area, working with the already agricultural native peoples and introducing them to European seeds, fruits, herbs, and grains. He also taught them to raise cattle, sheep and goats. His initial mission herd of twenty cattle imported to Pimería Alta grew during his period to 70,000. Historian Herbert Bolton referred to Kino as Arizona's first rancher.
Ina Hecker

He also taught them to build sturdy homes and at larger communities he founded schools for the children, taught them how to read and write and gave them instruction in the Catholic faith. In his travels in the Pimería Alta, Padre Kino interacted with 16 different tribes.

Ted de Grazia- Tucson

 Some of these had land that bordered on the Pimería Alta, but there are many cases where tribal representatives crossed into the Piman lands to meet the saintly Jesuit. He constructed nineteen villages which supplied cattle to new settlements. Padre Kino had an unusual amount of wealth for his vocation, which he used primarily to fund his missionary activities. His contemporaries reported on his wealth with suspicion.

Padre Kino opposed the slavery and compulsory hard labor in the silver mines that the Spaniards forced on the native people. This caused great controversy among his co-missionaries, many of whom acted according to the laws imposed by Spain on their territory.

Ted de Grazia-Tucson

He was also a writer, authoring books on religion, astronomy and map making. Padre Kino's later discovery that there was an overland route to California renewed the Jesuit mission efforts in Baja California that he first started 15 years before and made Padre Kino's maps world famous.

He built missions extending from the present day states of Mexican Sonora into present-day Arizona. At the invitation of the people of Bac, Padre Kino first visited their village in August 1692.

I visited this Mission  last year

Here he built the San Xavier del Bac mission, south of Tucson, which is still a functioning Franciscan parish church. During their 20 year friendship with Padre Kino, the people of Bac journeyed year-round to his missions in Sonora to help him and to receive his ministry.
Servant of God Eusebio Kino remained among his missions until his death in 1711. He died from fever at the age of 65, in what is present-day Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, Mexico. The saint is honored both in Mexico and the United States.

Padre Eusebio Kino was a man of great talents and his accomplishments were so widespread in southern Arizona that it chose him as one of its two representatives for the Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol in Washington.

Nereo de la Pena, Sonora, Mex. - his burial site

A movie was done on his life: Father Kino, Padre on Horseback (or Mission to Glory: A True Story)  1977. The movie is available in DVD format.

Rim of Christendom: a biography of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific Coast Pioneer,  Herbert Eugene Bolton- University of Arizona Press, 1984.
(his earlier book Padre on Horseback)

After Padre Kino’s death in 1711, an increasing number of German-speaking Jesuits arrived in the region of  S. Arizona and soon dominated the entire missionary district. The Swiss  Philipp Segesser, (1689-1762) one of the most effective and industrious members of the Jesuit Order active  in the Southwest, has not yet been fully noticed because, until recently, his large collection of letters has never been translated into English.

Father Segesser’s reports about his daily life,  his insightful observations about local agriculture, fauna, flora, climate, and geology, and his numerous comments about the American Indian lifestyle, clothing, food, hunting habits, religion, and culture at large are a most intriguing and fascinating glimpse into early Arizona history.


  1. "Padre Father Kino was a Saint to all who met him ,then and now "

    Thank you Father. Father Kino return horses to the Americans.

    Barb Ries

  2. Although the tolerance of illegal immigration among people of faith is nothing new, the elevation of Kino as standard bearer has only recently flourished. And it is taking place as the Vatican considers the Italian-born missionary for sainthood.

    Barb Ries, Tucson


    'This article says it all and this is an excellent reasons for noble horseman and other to receive and has many claims of a life leading to suggested for sainthood as he completed many miracles for many people and his history and kindness lives on in todays world. BRAVO !! Barb Ries , Tucson ,AZ. "

    The Church and the Native Americans
    The Real Story
    By: Margaret Bunson