Xuarez, Juan

Xuarez, Juan an early Roman Catholic prelate in America, was a native of Valencia, Spain, and entered the Franciscan order in the province of St. Gabriel, established by Martin at a time when, by the zealous reforms of cardinal Cisneros, the Franciscans of Spain were full of fervor and piety. When Cortez applied for Franciscan missionaries to undertake the conversion of the thickly settled towns in the kingdom just reduced by his arms, a Spanish father, Francis de los Angeles, had just been elected general of the order of St. Francis. For the leader of the twelve missionaries chosen, he selected Martin de Valencia, and fourth among their number was Juan Xuarez. With his superior, he embarked at San Lucar, January 15, 1524, and on May 13 they reached the castle of San Juan de Ulloa, before Vera Cruz, and met Cortez at Mexico. Father Xuarez was placed at Huegocongo, and as the result of his labors there the temple, where human sacrifices had often been perpetrated, was destroyed. After laboring here two years he returned to Spain, in 1526, accompanied by some of his Indian pupils, and sent out six more missionaries. In 1527 Xuarez was assigned to the expedition then fitting out by Pamphilo de Narvaez, which was intended to establish in Florida a settlement to rival that of Mexico. Xuarez was not only made commissary of his order, but was nominated bishop of Florida, his diocese to extend from the Atlantic to Rio de las Palmas, Mexico. With four Franciscan fathers and other priests, he sailed from San Lucar, June 17, 1527, and reached Florida in April. Misfortune attended this ill-starred expedition. The people were fierce and hostile, and the force, thinned by disease and constant engagements, crept along the northern coast of the gulf of Mexico. The brave Narvaez was driven out to sea, and never again heard of. The party then scattered, and many perished on an island called Malhado, probably that called Massacre Island by the French. There is no record of the death of bishop Xuarez and his companion, John de Palos. Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, with three others, reached a Spanish post in Sonora, but has left no details. They either perished of hunger or at the hands of the Indians, about the close of 1528. The portraits of the original twelve Franciscans of Mexico have been preserved, and that of Xuarez appears in the relation of Cabeza de Vaca. See (N.Y.) Catholic Almanac, 1872, page 67.

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