Ven. Antonio Margil
Itinerary in New Spain and Texas
1683 – Landed at Vera Cruz and walked to Querétaro, Mexico to help open the first College of the Propagation of the Faith in the New World. Preached missions around Mexico City.
1684-1689 – With his traveling companion Fr. Melchor López, Fr. Margil preached and established missions throughout Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and into Costa Rica
1689-1691 – Established numerous new missions among the hostile Talamanca Indians in the mountains of Panama; restored two missions among their neighbors on the Pacific coast, the Borucas Indians. Recalled to the College in Querétaro in 1691.
1692-1694 – Working in cooperation with the Dominicans, Fr. Melchor and Fr. Margil restored missions destroyed in an uprising among the Chol Indians in northern Guatemala.
1694 – An unsuccessful attempt to convert the Lacandon Indians on the border between present day Chiapas (Mexico) and Guatemala. Established a hospice (college branch house) in Santiago, of which Fr. Melchor was chosen superior.
1695-1697 – With a new companion missionary, Fr. Pedro de la Concepción, Fr. Margil returned to work among the Chol Indians and prepare them for the opening of a road through their territory that would join Yucatan with Guatemala. Accompanied the road building expedition in eastern Chicapas and successfully established two missions among the Lacandons.
1697-1700 – Elected Fr. Guardian of the College of Querétaro, and then Fr. President of the same College.
1701 – Chosen Vicar of the Querétaro College; established peace in a political struggle going on in Guatemala; founded and built a new College of Christ Crucified there and was elected its first Fr. Guardian.
1702-1704 – As Guardian, he continued missionary journeys in coastal regions of Guatemala to wipe out witchcraft and devil-worship that had become rampant there; founded a hospice in Granada.
1705-1707 – returned to mission among Talamancas in Costa Rica; received order to return to Mexico and establish and build the third College of the Propagation of the Faith in Guadalupe near Zacatecas (Mexico).
1707-1713 – Appointed President (superior) of the Zacatecas College for two terms; preached parish missions in surrounding cities; made an unsuccessful attempt to establish a mission with the Cora and Huichole Indians north of Guadalajara.
1714 – Founded two short-lived missions among the hostile Toboso Indians in the northern Province of Coahuila (Mexico); established a hospice of the College of Zacatecas at Boca de Leones (present day Villaldama, Mexico); received the appointment as Vice-Commissary of the Missions in New Spain.
1716 – Appointed superior of the missions to Texas for the Zacatecas College; Set out on the expedition but because of illness he was left behind at the Rio Grande, receiving the Last Sacraments on April 25. Recovered and rejoined the mission party in July.
The first mission in present Nacagdoches, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe, July 9, 1716), had been founded, and Fr. Margil went on to establish the two other Zacatecas College missions, Mission San Miguel (St. Michael Mission) in present day Robeline, Louisiana (1717), and Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows) near San Augustine, Texas (1717).
The three missions of the College of Querétaro were also established in the San Antonio, Texas area at this time. They were the Missions of San Francisco (St. Francis, July 3, 1716); Purísima Concepción (Immaculate Conception, July 7, 1716) and San José (St. Joseph, July 10, 1716).
1719-1721 – Because of a war that broke out between Spain and France, Fr. Margil and his missionaries had to abandon their three missions in east Texas and retreat to the presidio and mission of San Antonio (the Alamo); there he founded a second Mission San José (1720) about four miles south of the Alamo, and Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Sancto (Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, 1721, officially established in April 1722). Accompanied a new military expedition and re-established the three missions in East Texas.
1722-1725 - Received notice he had been elected Fr. Guardian of the Zacatecas College, and had to leave the Texas missions to carry out the three-year term of office. At the end of his term of office, he made a month retreat and entered his last missionary journey to preach parish missions in various places.
1726 – Preached his last mission in Valladolid, and in August reached Mexico City near death. Died on August 6, 1726, Feast of the Transfiguration, at age 69 minus twelve days.
This outline of Fr. Margil's apostolic work in the New World and map showing his travels are taken from the book
“All America was the witness and the scene of his virtues and miracles. To trace his journeys among the pagans, turn your eyes to east and west, to north and south, and you will find him in all these places, leading a very austere life, crossing mountains, combating the evil spirits until he had triumphantly planted his foundations. The widely scattered provinces of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, of Honduras and Chol and Panama, of Coahuila and Tejas – all of them heard his apostolic voice.”
- Eulogy of Fr. Bringas De Manzaneda, 1794
Nothingness Itself, Selected Writings of Antonio Margil 1690-1724 (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1976), pp. xix-xx
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Ven. Antonio Margil, Apostle of Texas
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