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Martínez, Antonio J. (1793–1867)

Martínez, Antonio J. (1793–1867)

Antonio J. Martínez (b. 1793; d. 1867), Roman Catholic priest, publisher, and political leader of New Mexico under Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. rule. Born in Abiquiu, New Mexico, Martínez was widowed after only one year of marriage. He subsequently studied for the priesthood in Durango, Mexico. As a pastor in Taos, Padre Martínez founded schools and published books and a newspaper called El Crepúsculo de la Libertad (The Twilight of Liberty). His was the first printing press west of the Mississippi River. Martínez's labors were characterized by a deep conviction about the importance of education for his people. He is best known for the often bitter controversies between himself and the first archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean-Baptiste Lamy, which exemplified the cultural conflicts between New Mexico (Hispano) Catholics and the European, especially French, priests sent to work in New Mexico after the territory passed to the United States in 1848. The clash revolved around the efforts of the Europeans, who viewed their ministry as being both religious and social, to Americanize the New Mexico Hispanics. They urged the New Mexicans to abandon their "old-fashioned" Catholicism for a more "modern" Jansenist Catholicism appropriate for Catholics in a Protestant nation. The Europeans, who were trained for the ministry in the austere seminaries of France, knew little about the deep cultural roots of New Mexican Catholicism. Padre Antonio J. Martínez has come to be viewed as a hero of New Mexico history and a forerunner of the Hispanic or Latino civil rights movement of the 1960s.

See alsoCatholic Chruch: The Colonial Period; New Mexico.


Luciano Hendren, Fronteras: A History of the Latin American Church in the USA Since 1513 (1983), esp. pp. 195-207.

Carey McWilliams, North from Mexico (1968), esp. pp. 118-119.

Additional Bibliography

De Aragon, Ray J. Padre Martínez and Bishop Lamy. Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone Press, 2006.

                            Allan Figueroa Deck S.J.

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