Betancos Domingo De

Betancos Domingo De a Spanish missionary, was born at Leon near the close of the 15th century. He first studied law at Salamanca, then went to Rome, and established himself in a convent of the Benedictine order, which he soon left in order to take refuge on the small island of Ponca, situated four or five leagues from Naples. This island was for a long time inhabited by hermits, who lived in caverns. Betangos abode there for five years in absolute seclusion. He finally abandoned the ascetic life and came forth, and was ordained priest at Seville, and in 1514 went to Hispaniola, at the time when bishop Geraldini intended to chastise the Indians. Betansos was a witness of the cruelties which so rapidly depopulated St. Domingo. He learned the language of the Indians, taught them, and befriended them. About this time Mexico offered a vast field for labor. He resolved to go, and arrived there with some of his brethren June 23, 1526. Here he founded, for the honor of the Benedictine order to which he belonged, the province of Santiago. In 1528 he went to found another convent in Guatemala, about the time that the independence of the convent was threatened by the house of St. Domingo. Betancos embarked for Europe in 1531, to maintain the rights of his brethren at Rome. He obtained his request, and returned immediately to America. In 1535 he was elected canonically as provincial. This was the most glorious epoch of his career. The New World afforded intellectual culture to the Indians, whom he was seeking so zealously to aid. He sent T. Domingo of Minaya to Rome to plead the cause of the Indians. In 1537 he obtained of Paul III the promulgation of the bull which called upon Christians to recognize the Indians as their brothers, and by this act their cruelty was condemned. He spread this famous bull throughout America, and refused the bishopric of Guatemala, and in monastic humility performed the functions of provincial. At length he set out on his return to Spain, with a monk named Vicenet of Las Casas. He landed at San Lucas in July, 1549. The month following he expired in the convent of St. Paul, at Valladolid. See Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, s.v.

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