Skip to main content
Select Source:

Eusebio Francisco Kino

Eusebio Francisco Kino

The Spanish missionary, explorer, and cartographer Eusebio Francisco Kino (1645-1711) was the foremost pioneer in Baja California, Sonora (Mexico), and Arizona and the first to reconnoiter in detail and map accurately large sections of this vast area.

Eusebio Kino was born on Aug. 10, 1645, in Segno, Italy. He attended Jesuit schools, and in 1663, having fallen seriously ill, he vowed that if he recovered with divine aid he would join the Society of Jesus and devote himself to work in foreign missions. Having recovered, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1665. During 13 years of additional study in Jesuit institutions, he displayed a special interest and ability in mathematics and geography.

After his requests for a missionary assignment had been repeatedly turned down, Kino and a German companion were accepted for foreign service; one was to go to the Philippines, the other to Mexico. Unwilling to make the choice, the two men cast lots, and the result of this "pious lottery" was that Kino drew Mexico. Because of various mishaps he did not arrive in Mexico until May 1681.

During his stay in Mexico City, Kino published a pamphlet ascribing the character of a portent to the comet of 1680; this provoked a reply from the Mexican scholar Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora, whose Libra astronomica assigned a purely natural origin to the phenomenon. Meanwhile, Kino had left Mexico City to serve as missionary and cartographer on the Atondo expedition to Baja California of 1683. Food shortages and Atondo's rash attack on friendly Indians caused the failure and abandonment of this missionary and colonizing venture.

In 1687 Kino began the peaceful conquest of the region then called Pimerìa Alta (modern northern Sonora and southern Arizona). This land of deserts and mountains was inhabited by the Pima Indian tribe. From his base at Mission Dolores in the southern part of the region, Kino, assisted by a few coworkers, pushed northward, establishing missions in one river valley after another until his network of missions extended into Arizona as far as the Colorado and Gila rivers. The intense, driving Kino personally baptized some 4,500 Indians; a few years before his death he estimated that he and his colleagues had brought more than 30,000 souls into the Church.

A born planner and organizer, Kino provided a sound economic base for his missions, teaching the Indians not only Christian doctrine but cattle raising and the cultivation of new crops like wheat. He was himself a largescale rancher, supplying livestock both to his own missions and to those in Baja California, to which the Jesuits returned in 1697. The combination of sound economic planning and a broad tolerance for Indian customs was a major reason for Kino's success in his campaign of peaceful conquest.

Kino found time amid his apostolic labors to explore Arizona as far north as the Casa Grande ruins and the Gila River and westward to modern Yuma and the Colorado River. His westward journeys convinced him that California was not an island, as was then commonly supposed. His maps, showing that California could be reached overland from Mexico, prepared the ground for the Spanish 18th-century missionary and colonizing thrust into that area. Kino was a prodigious letter writer; many of these letters, relating his achievements and trials, have been preserved and published. He was also the author of an autobiographic work, Favores celestiales (Kino's Historical Memoir of Pimeria Alta, 1919).

Further Reading

The standard life of Kino is Herbert E. Bolton, Rim of Christendom: A Biography of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific Coast Pioneer (1936). Consult also the comprehensive bibliography by Francis J. Fox, S. J., in Fay J. Smith, John L. Kessell, and Francis J. Fox, Father Kino in Arizona (1966).

Additional Sources

Bolton, Herbert Eugene, Rim of Christendom: a biography of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific coast pioneer, Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press, 1984.

Polzer, Charles W., Kino guide II: a life of Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J., Arizona's first pioneer and a guide to his missions and monuments, Tucson, Ariz.: Southwestern Mission Research Center, 1982. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Eusebio Francisco Kino." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Eusebio Francisco Kino." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/eusebio-francisco-kino

"Eusebio Francisco Kino." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/eusebio-francisco-kino

Kino, Eusebio Francisco

Eusebio Francisco Kino (āōōsā´byō fränsēs´kō kē´nō), c.1644–1711, missionary explorer in the American Southwest, b. Segno, in the Tyrol. He was in 1669 admitted to the Jesuit order. A distinguished mathematician, he observed the comet of 1680–81 at Cádiz, publishing his results in his Exposición astronómica de el [sic] cometa (1681). He arrived as a missionary in New Spain in 1681 and was appointed royal cosmographer to accompany the expedition to colonize Lower California. When the settlement in S California was abandoned, he went to Pimería Alta (now N Sonora and S Arizona), where he labored as a missionary, explorer, and colonizer until his death. He made more than 50 journeys from his base, the mission of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores in Sonora, frequently with only Native American guides as companions. He established agriculture at the missions he founded and brought in cattle, horses, and sheep; he distributed cattle and seed grain among the Native Americans. In 1701–2 he made two expeditions down the Colorado, on the second reaching the head of the Gulf and proving anew that California was not an island. He was the first to map Pimería Alta on the basis of actual exploration, and his map, published in 1705, and many times reproduced, remained the basis for maps of the region until the 19th cent. His valuable historical and autobiographical chronicle, Favores celestiales, was edited by H. E. Bolton as Kino's Historical Memoir of Pimería Alta (1919, repr. 1948).

See E. J. Burros, Kino and the Cartography of Northwestern New Spain (1965); F. J. Smith, J. L. Kessell, and F. J. Fox, Father Kino in Arizona (1966).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Kino, Eusebio Francisco." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Kino, Eusebio Francisco." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/kino-eusebio-francisco

"Kino, Eusebio Francisco." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/kino-eusebio-francisco