On July 11, the feast of St. Benedict, Pope Francis formally recognized PADRE EUSEBIO KINO, S.J., as Venerable. The 17th century Italian Jesuit missionary evangelized, and mapped, much of what is now northern
Mexico and the southwestern . United States
Padre Kino (see Blog 10/14.12), an explorer and missionary, took part in numerous expeditions through the American Southwest and is widely considered an apostle to the native population of
, and defender of their rights. Arizona
Born in 1645 in the Tyrol region of northern
and ordained in 1677, Padre Kino was sent to , arriving in 1681. Mexico
Participating in more than 50 expeditions through northern
Mexico to the southwestern United States, he is credited with baptizing
more than 4,000 people, and covering more than 50,000 square miles by horse
while announcing the Gospel and mapping the Pimería Alta territory of modern . Arizona
A capable cartographer, Padre Kino personally mapped an area 200 miles long by 250 miles wide, paving the way for a network of missions and roads connecting previously inaccessible parts of the region.
He is also credited with teaching advanced agricultural and ranching techniques to the local people, delivering new crops and improving the quality of life, as well as founding 19 ranching villages to supply food for the region, and schools for the education of the local children.
The Jesuit was also a noted defender of the rights and dignity of the indigenous people, strongly opposing the Spanish conscription of the local Sonoran Indians to work in silver mines. He died in 1711, aged 65, having fallen ill during a Mass to dedicate the
church of St. Francis Xavier in present day Magdalena de Kino,
in , where his shrine is a
national monument. Sonora, Mexico