Ximénez, Francisco (1666–1730)

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Ximénez, Francisco (1666–1730)

Francisco Ximénez (b. 28 November 1666; d. between 11 May 1729 and mid-1730), a Dominican priest who translated the Popol Vuh, the Maya-K'iche' story of creation.

Born in Écija, Andalusia, Ximénez joined the Dominican order in 1688 and was sent to Guatemala to continue his religious studies. He was ordained in 1690. His facility for learning the Indian languages soon became evident, and he was assigned as parish priest in San Juan Sacatepéquez to learn the Kaqchikel language. Under the guidance of another friar who knew Kakchikel, he prepared a grammar in that language and went on to master the K'iche' and Tz'utujil languages.

While serving in Chichicastenango from 1701 to 1703, Ximénez found a manuscript of the ancient book of the K'iche' people, the Popol Vuh. He translated into Spanish its story of creation and the history of the K'iche' nation. The Popol Vuh is now considered the national book of Guatemala.

Later Ximénez founded a hospital for Indians in Rabinal and developed a treatment for rabies. During his stay at Rabinal he also began a careful study of bees. Ximénez became interested in the flora and fauna of Guatemala. His work as a naturalist was recorded in Historia natural del Reino de Guatemala. About 1715 he began writing the history of the Dominican order in Guatemala, Historia de la provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala de la Orden de Predicadores. His writings were often critical of the Spaniards. He died in the convent of Santo Domingo in Santiago de Guatemala.

See alsoIndigenous Peoples .


Juan Rodríguez Cabal, Apuntes para la vida del … Francisco Ximénez (1935).

Francisco Ximénez, Historia natural (1967) and Historia de la provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala de la Orden de Predicadores (1971).

Additional Bibliography

Quiroa, Nestor I. "Francisco Ximénez and the 'Popol Vuh': Text, Structure, and Ideology in the Prologue to the Second Treatise." Colonial Latin American Historical Review 11, no. 3 (Summer 2002): 279-300.

                                      David L. Jickling