Vera Cruz, Alonso de la (c. 1507–1584)

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Vera Cruz, Alonso de la (c. 1507–1584)

Alonso de la Vera Cruz (also Veracruz or Gutiérrez de Veracruz; b. ca. 1507; d. 1584), Augustinian friar and distinguished philosopher, theologian, and educator in early colonial Mexico. Born in Caspueñas, Toledo, Spain, he studied grammar, literature, and rhetoric at the University of Alcalá. Afterward he pursued philosophy and theology at the University of Salamanca, where he was a pupil of the famous Dominican Francisco de Vitoria. He traveled to Mexico in 1536 at the invitation of Francisco de la Cruz and took the Augustinian habit in 1537. The long, varied list of Vera Cruz's accomplishments includes serving as missionary to the Tarasacan Indians, whose language he mastered; teaching in the Augustinian colegio in Michoacán, where he established one of the earliest New World libraries; founding the monasteries of Cuitzeo, Yuririapúndaro, Cupándaro, and Charo in Michoacán; and founding the College of San Pablo in Mexico City in 1575 and endowing it with a fine collection of books that he had transported from Spain in sixty boxes. In 1553, Vera Cruz was appointed first rector and professor of Scripture and Thomistic theology at the newly established University of Mexico. A preeminent orator and classic writer in the Spanish language, Vera Cruz was an eloquent voice of Scholastic theology in Mexico and has been called the "father of Mexican philosophy." He died in Mexico City.

See alsoMissions: Spanish America; Philosophy: Overview.


Ernest J. Burrus, ed., The Writings of Alonso de la Vera Cruz, 5 vols. (1967–1975).

Arthur Ennis, Fray Alonso de la Vera Cruz, O.S.A. (1507–1584): A Study of His Life and His Contribution to the Religious and Intellectual Affairs of Early Mexico (1957).

O. Carlos Stoetzer, The Scholastic Roots of the Spanish American Revolution (1979).

Additional Bibliography

Beuchot, Mauricio, and Bernabé Navarro. Dos homenajes: Alonso de la Veracruz y Francisco Xavier Clavigero. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1992.

Castro, Sarai. "Alonso de la Veracruz as an Aristotelian Natural Philosopher." In Method and Order in Renaissance Philosophy of Nature: The Aristotle Commentary Tradition, edited by Daniel A. Di Liscia, Eckhard Kessler, and Charlotte Methuen. Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1997.

Torre Rangel, Jesús Antonio de la. Alonso de la Veracruz, amparo de los indios: Su teoría y práctica juridica. Aguascalientes, Mexico: Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes, 1998.

                                      J. David Dressing