Kino, Eusebio Francisco

views updated May 18 2018

Kino, Eusebio Francisco


Segno in Tyrol, Austria (now Italy)

March 15, 1711

Mission at Santa Magdalena

Jesuit missionary and explorer

"He died as he had lived, with extreme humility and poverty."

Kino's companion Luis Verde.

Eusebio Francisco Kino was a pioneering seventeenth-century Jesuit missionary. He was also an explorer, mathematician, mapmaker, astronomer, and businessman. In 1665 Kino joined the Jesuits to train as a missionary. (Jesuits are members of the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious order for men founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. They are dedicated to academic study and the establishment of foreign missions and schools.) Three years later he participated in an expedition to establish Spanish settlements in Mexico. Beginning in 1687, he spent almost twenty-five years in Primería Alta (the area that is now northern Mexico and southern Arizona), building missions and exploring the southwestern region of North America. His explorations led to the return of the Jesuits to the present-day Baja Peninsula of California in 1697. Kino was also responsible for establishing ranching as a viable economic enterprise in Primería Alta.

Establishes settlements

Eusebio Francisco Kino was born in 1644 in Segno in the Austrian province of Tyrol (now Italy). He was baptized on August 10 the following year. As a young man, Kino received a good education. At a time when many people could not read or write, he studied at the universities of Inglostadt and Freiburg, where he showed an aptitude for mathematics. Although he was offered a professorship in mathematics at the University of Inglostadt, Kino had already decided his future was with the Roman Catholic Church. In 1665 he joined the Jesuits in order to become a missionary. Kino also continued studying mathematics in hopes of someday going to China.

Although it had been his dream for many years to go to China, Kino was sent to Mexico. After going to Cadíz, Spain, in 1678, he sailed on to Vera Cruz, Mexico, in 1681. At the time, Spain had decided to establish settlements in Baja California. The responsibility for this enterprise fell to the Jesuits, and Kino was selected to be one of two missionaries sent to California in 1683. Kino and his party spent two years exploring the region and making frequent reports. When a drought forced the cancellation of the enterprise in 1685, Kino was sent to Primería Alta.

A man of many talents

In addition to being a Jesuit missionary, Eusebio Kino was a man of many talents and abilities. For instance, his proficiency in mathematics won him the position of royal astronomer (a person who specializes in the study of space) and mapmaker. As an astronomer he published Exposición Astronómica de el Cometa (Astronomical Exposition of the Comet), a book about the comet of 1680, which he had observed while in Càdiz, Spain. He was also a noted explorer. After leading the Jesuits back to present-day Baja California in 1697, Kino discovered that the area was a peninsula rather than an island. His map of the region became quite popular and was published several times in Europe.

Establishes missions, explores Southwest

After arriving in Primería Alta in March 1687, Kino spent his time living and traveling among the Yuma and Pima Indians. As yet there were no European settlers in the area and he explored the region, built missions, and attended to his religious duties. Moving from his previous mission at the town of Cucurpe, he founded the mission of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores. Kino remained at Dolores from 1687 until 1711, from that location establishing missions in the Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Magdelena, San Pedro, Sonóita, and Altar river valleys. Some of these missions eventually grew into modern-day towns and cities. For instance, in April 1700 he founded San Xavier del Bac, which is now Tucson, Arizona.

Kino did more than direct the building of missions. He also led explorations that pushed as far north as the Gila and Colorado Rivers and which ultimately led to the return of the Jesuits to the Baja Peninsula of California in 1697. Up until this time the area was believed to be an island, but Kino confirmed that it was actually a peninsula and could therefore be reached and explored by land. Kino traveled thousands of miles on horseback, sometimes with Europeans and other times with Native Americans. In 1695 he rode to Mexico City, taking 53 days to make the 1,500-mile journey.

Spain needs California

When Eusebio Francisco Kino arrived in North America in 1681, Spain had already claimed present-day California but had not yet explored the land. By that time, mapping and settling the territory had become crucial. The Spanish conquest of the Philippines in the 1650s had opened trade between Mexico and Manila across the Pacific Ocean. But the present route from Mexico to the Philippines skirted California because ships had to avoid dangerous currents. Moreover, English and Dutch pirates (people who rob ships and the land from the sea) lay in wait, hoping to plunder rich Spanish ships. Spain therefore needed a harbor on the coast so the voyage would be safer and more direct. The Spanish government also wanted to take advantage of the abundant pearl fishing in California waters. Yet, earlier in the century the Spaniards had alienated Native American tribes in the Southwest, so no permanent Spanish settlements had been built. Kino's party was sent to explore the area, befriend the Native Americans, and establish missions.

Establishes ranching as a business

Kino was also a skilled businessman. He is credited with introducing ranching as a viable economic enterprise in Primería Alta. The older missions had supplied him with a few animals, but he went on to establish cattle ranches in at least six river valleys in northern Mexico. The missions bred cattle, horses, mules, and sheep. The animals not only fed Native Americans but also enabled the missions to be financially self-sufficient. This was an important factor because it meant that the missions could survive regardless of what was happening politically and economically in Spain. In addition, it allowed Kino to develop new missions without relying on help from anybody else. For example, when creating San Xavier del Bac he was able to send along seven hundred animals—a large herd for the time. He also originated the idea of building a road around the head of the Gulf of Mexico in order to shorten the water route for shipping livestock. One historian has credited Kino with establishing the cattle industry in at least twenty places where it still exists today, including Tucson.

Remains devout to the end

Kino seems to have exemplified the simplicity and faith that marked the most devout Jesuits. He took his vows of poverty seriously, owning few possessions, and he ate and slept sparingly. He was unafraid to die, secure in his belief in the promise of salvation (forgiveness of sins). He died on March 15, 1711, during a visit to dedicate a chapel at the mission of Santa Magdalena. Luis Velarde, Kino's companion for the last eight years of his life, wrote: "He died as he had lived, with extreme humility and poverty. In token of this, during his last illness he did not undress. His deathbed, as his bed had always been, consisted of two calfskins for a mattress, two blankets such as the Indians use for covers, and a pack-saddle for a pillow."

For further research

Bolton, Herbert Eugene. Kino's Historical Memoir of Primería Alta, Volume 1. Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark, 1919.

"Eusebio Kino, S.J." Available July 13, 1999.

Johnson, Allen, and others, ed. Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Scribner, 1946–1958, pp. 419–20.

Kino, Eusebio Francisco

views updated May 23 2018


Missionary, explorer, and cartographer; b. Segno, Italy, Aug. 10, 1645; d. Magdalena, Ariz. (then Mexico), March 15, 1711. Called the "Apostle of Sonora and Arizona," Kino changed his family name, spelled Chino or Chini, to Quino or Kino. In his prayers for recovery from a nearly fatal illness in 1663, he promised St. Francis Xavier that he would assume the name Francisco, enter the Society of Jesus, and devote himself to the missions. Two years later, he joined the Jesuit province of Upper Germany. While engaged in ecclesiastical studies, chiefly at Innsbruck and Ingolstadt, he also familiarized himself with astronomy and mathematics as necessities for the Chinese missions. His association with Germany during these years have led some historians to class him as a German under the name Kühn. Finally in 1678, after repeated petitions, Kino was assigned to a group being assembled in Spain for missions in American and Asia. Since their destinations were not explicit, he and a fellow Jesuit drew lots; the pious gamble chose his destination as Mexico.

Kino voyaged from Genoa to Cádiz, only to endure a two-year delay in Spaina delay that permitted him to study the comet of 1680. He sailed from Cádiz in January of 1681 and landed at Vera Cruz, Mexico, in May. In Mexico City he published a pamphlet containing his observations on the comet, which were attacked by the Mexican scholar and former Jesuit novice, Carlos Sigüenza y Gángora. Meanwhile Kino had left Mexico City to serve as a royal cosmographer and Jesuit superior on the Atondo expedition of 1683 to Lower California. He wrote reports, crossed this reputedly "large island" from Gulf shore to Pacific coast, and drew maps which he sent to Europe. Drought caused the abandonment of his missionary and colonizing venture in 1685.

Pimería Alta, a vast region extending over modern northern Sonora and southern Arizona, was the scene of Kino's endeavors from 1687 until his death. Establishing his headquarters at Mission Dolores in 1687, he founded missions in the San Miguel, Magdalena, Altar, Sonóita, Santa Cruz, and San Pedro valleys. He baptized 4,500 Pimas, promoted cattle raising, and established missions on the sites of many modern towns and cities. He rode thousands of miles, traveling north from Dolores as far as the Gila and Colorado Rivers. His was the first clearly recorded description of the Casa Grande of the Gila. His enthusiastic letters and reports on Lower California helped the Jesuits to return there in 1697. Kino himself was retained at Primería even though royal decrees directed him to go to California with the missionary Juan Salvatierra; his missions sent cattle and other supplies to the new posts across the Gulf.

In 1700, while constucting the first mission of San Xavier del Bac, he became convinced that California was not an island when he noticed blue shells that he had originally seen on California's Pacific coast side. Two expeditions to the lower Colorado strengthened his opinion, and his maps did much to prove the fact to Europe. He planned to open a road around the head of the gulf, but it was not until generations later that Juan de Anza and Junípero Serra made it a reality. In 1711 the dedication of a chapel in honor of St. Francis Xavier brought Kino to his mission at Magdalena, and he died there.

Bibliography: e. s. kino, Kino's Historical Memoir of Pimería Alta, tr. and ed. h. e. bolton (Berkeley 1948). e. j. burrus, ed., Kino Reports to Headquarters (Rome 1954). h. e. bolton, Rim of Christendom: A Biography of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific Coast Pioneer (New York 1936; repr. 1960).

[j. a. donohue]

Eusebio Francisco Kino

views updated May 14 2018

Eusebio Francisco Kino

The Spanish missionary, explorer, and cartographer Eusebio Francisco Kino (1645-1711) was the foremost pioneer in Baja California, Sonora (Mexico), and Arizona and the first to reconnoiter in detail and map accurately large sections of this vast area.

Eusebio Kino was born on Aug. 10, 1645, in Segno, Italy. He attended Jesuit schools, and in 1663, having fallen seriously ill, he vowed that if he recovered with divine aid he would join the Society of Jesus and devote himself to work in foreign missions. Having recovered, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1665. During 13 years of additional study in Jesuit institutions, he displayed a special interest and ability in mathematics and geography.

After his requests for a missionary assignment had been repeatedly turned down, Kino and a German companion were accepted for foreign service; one was to go to the Philippines, the other to Mexico. Unwilling to make the choice, the two men cast lots, and the result of this "pious lottery" was that Kino drew Mexico. Because of various mishaps he did not arrive in Mexico until May 1681.

During his stay in Mexico City, Kino published a pamphlet ascribing the character of a portent to the comet of 1680; this provoked a reply from the Mexican scholar Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora, whose Libra astronomica assigned a purely natural origin to the phenomenon. Meanwhile, Kino had left Mexico City to serve as missionary and cartographer on the Atondo expedition to Baja California of 1683. Food shortages and Atondo's rash attack on friendly Indians caused the failure and abandonment of this missionary and colonizing venture.

In 1687 Kino began the peaceful conquest of the region then called Pimerìa Alta (modern northern Sonora and southern Arizona). This land of deserts and mountains was inhabited by the Pima Indian tribe. From his base at Mission Dolores in the southern part of the region, Kino, assisted by a few coworkers, pushed northward, establishing missions in one river valley after another until his network of missions extended into Arizona as far as the Colorado and Gila rivers. The intense, driving Kino personally baptized some 4,500 Indians; a few years before his death he estimated that he and his colleagues had brought more than 30,000 souls into the Church.

A born planner and organizer, Kino provided a sound economic base for his missions, teaching the Indians not only Christian doctrine but cattle raising and the cultivation of new crops like wheat. He was himself a largescale rancher, supplying livestock both to his own missions and to those in Baja California, to which the Jesuits returned in 1697. The combination of sound economic planning and a broad tolerance for Indian customs was a major reason for Kino's success in his campaign of peaceful conquest.

Kino found time amid his apostolic labors to explore Arizona as far north as the Casa Grande ruins and the Gila River and westward to modern Yuma and the Colorado River. His westward journeys convinced him that California was not an island, as was then commonly supposed. His maps, showing that California could be reached overland from Mexico, prepared the ground for the Spanish 18th-century missionary and colonizing thrust into that area. Kino was a prodigious letter writer; many of these letters, relating his achievements and trials, have been preserved and published. He was also the author of an autobiographic work, Favores celestiales (Kino's Historical Memoir of Pimeria Alta, 1919).

Further Reading

The standard life of Kino is Herbert E. Bolton, Rim of Christendom: A Biography of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific Coast Pioneer (1936). Consult also the comprehensive bibliography by Francis J. Fox, S. J., in Fay J. Smith, John L. Kessell, and Francis J. Fox, Father Kino in Arizona (1966).

Additional Sources

Bolton, Herbert Eugene, Rim of Christendom: a biography of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific coast pioneer, Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press, 1984.

Polzer, Charles W., Kino guide II: a life of Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J., Arizona's first pioneer and a guide to his missions and monuments, Tucson, Ariz.: Southwestern Mission Research Center, 1982. □

Eusebio Francisco Kino

views updated May 14 2018

Eusebio Francisco Kino


Spanish priest and explorer who introduced Christianity and Spanish influence into northern Mexico and present-day Arizona. Sent to Mexico in 1681, he established missions in many native villages and made at least 40 expeditions in Arizona, exploring extensive areas including the Rio Grande, Colorado, and Gila rivers. Father Kino was a compassionate man. He opposed the use of natives as forced labor in the mines, and he improved native agriculture by introducing wheat and cattle farming.