González de Santa Cruz, Roque (1576–1628)

views updated

González de Santa Cruz, Roque (1576–1628)

Roque González de Santa Cruz (b. 1576; d. 15 November 1628), Paraguayan Jesuit who founded many of the Jesuit missions (reducciones) in his native land, as well as in present-day Argentina and Uruguay. Born of Spanish parents in Asunción, he learned Guaraní as a child. He was ordained a priest around 1589 and worked among the Indians in the region of Jejuí, north of Asunción. In 1603 he was named rector of the cathedral in Asunción, and in 1609 he entered the Society of Jesus. As a Jesuit he returned to work with the Indians. He helped build the first of the reducciones, San Ignacio Guazú, south of Asunción. In 1614 he wrote a letter to his brother Francisco, the lieutenant governor of Asunción, in which he denounced the encomenderos for their mistreatment of the Indians. He went on to found many other reducciones in southern Paraguay, in the province of Misiones in present-day Argentina, and in Uruguay. In 1627 he was appointed superior of all of the reducciones in Uruguay. At Caaró, in modern Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, he and two other Jesuits were killed by Indian shamans who were hostile to his efforts to Christianize the Indians in their region.

González was a skilled builder, leader, and organizer. Although he died at the hands of hostile Indians, he was greatly esteemed by the Indians in general, who appreciated his efforts to organize them in defense of their land and culture against Spanish exploiters. The first Paraguayan to be a missionary in his own land, he was also the first martyr born in the New World. He was canonized in 1988.

See alsoMissions: Jesuit Missions (Reducciones) .


Clement J. McNaspy, Conquistador Without Sword: The Life of Roque González, S.J. (1984).

Philip Caraman, The Lost Paradise, 2d ed. (1990).

Silvio Palacios and Ena Zoffoli, Gloria y tragedia de las misiones guaraníes (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Miglioranza, Contardo. Los santos mártires rioplatenses: Roque González de Santa Cruz, Alonso Rodríguez y Juan del Castillo. Buenos Aires: Comision Episcopal de Misiones: Misiones Franciscanas Conventuales, 1998.

Rojas, Antonio. Un paraguayo fuera de serie: Roque González, visto y admirado por otro paraguayo. Asunción: Distribuidora Montoya, 2000.

                                    Jeffrey Klaiber

About this article

González de Santa Cruz, Roque (1576–1628)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article


González de Santa Cruz, Roque (1576–1628)