Durán, Fray Narciso (1776–1846)

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Durán, Fray Narciso (1776–1846)

Fray Narciso Durán (b. 16 December 1776; d. 1 June 1846), Franciscan missionary. Durán was born at Castellón de Ampurias in Catalonia, where he entered the Franciscan order at Gerona in 1792. Ordained in 1800, Durán left Spain in 1803 for Mexico, arriving in the Alta California missions three years later.

Durán remained in the Alta California missions for forty years and died at the Santa Barbara mission in 1846. During most of this period (1806–1833) he was stationed at the San José mission in the San Francisco Bay region and at the Santa Barbara mission. In 1832 Durán became the vicar forane (foreign vicar) and ecclesiastical judge for Alta California. He was president of the missions from 1833 to 1838 and commissary prefect after 1838.

Durán tried to defend the missions against reforms initiated by Mexican politicians and was vocal in his criticism of these changes. For example, he criticized the emancipation of mission Indians in the late 1820s and early 1830s. Moreover, in the 1820s and 1830s he refused to take oaths of loyalty to Mexico. Despite his views, Durán, like the other Spanish-born Franciscans in Alta California, was not expelled. However, in 1833 the Mexican government sent Mexican-born Franciscans from the apostolic college in Zacatecas to staff its missions in the northern part of the province, which was especially sensitive politically because of the presence of the Russians at Fort Ross north of San Francisco Bay.

See alsoFranciscans .


Maynard J. Geiger, O.F.M., Franciscan Missionaries in Hispanic California, 1769–1848: A Biographical Dictionary (1969).

Additional Bibliography

Sandos, James A. Converting California: Indians and Franciscans in the Missions. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

                                      Robert H. Jackson

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Durán, Fray Narciso (1776–1846)

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