Ávila, Francisco de
ÁVILA, FRANCISCO DE
Quechua scholar and crusader against Amerindian idolatry; b. Cuzco, Peru, 1573; d. Lima, Sept. 17, 1647. He was a foundling and took his name from Beatriz de Ávila, wife of Cristóbal Rodríguez, who cared for him as a child. He began his studies in Cuzco and was ordained in 1591. He studied civil and Canon Law in the University of San Marcos in Lima and received a doctorate in 1606. In 1597 he became pastor of San Damián (Huarochirí) and began his campaign to wipe out native idolatry and superstition. He was accused of exceeding his authority in this matter, but Abp. Toribio de mogrovejo exonerated him during his visitation, and this was ratified by the visitor general of the archdiocese in 1600–01. Using his knowledge of Quechua, Ávila continued his work against idolatry. In 1608, in his zeal he held an auto-da-fé in which a number of idols were burned and the Amerindian Hernando Paucar was scourged for idolatry and for being a friend of the devil. Ávila subsequently spent some time in prison, but he was absolved in 1609. The chronicler Huamán Poma de Ayala criticized Ávila for depriving the native Peruvians of their idols and other objects of worship. Archbishop Lobo de Guerrero appointed Ávila the first Visitador de Idolatrías, but in the course of his duties he became ill and had to return to Lima. His writings are extensive. In 1608 he wrote Tratado y relación de los errores, falsos dioses y otras supersticiones y ritos diabólicos en que vivían antiguamente los indios de las provincias de Huarochirí, Mama y Chaclla y hoy también viven engañados con gran perdición de sus almas (published in 1942). His Oratio habita in ecclesia cathedrali limensi was printed in 1610. The next year he wrote a Memoria on a visit to the towns in the Province of Huarochirí, later published by Medina as Cura de Huánacu. In 1646 he wrote his most literary book, Tratado de los evangelios. The second volume of this was published posthumously as was a collection of sermons in Quechua and Spanish titled De los misterios de nuestra Santa Fe. The work of Ávila, along with that of Hernando de Avendaño, is considered to represent the transition from the Quechua of evangelism to the Quechua of literature.
Bibliography: f. de Ávila, Dämonen und Zauber im Inkareich, ed. and tr. h. trimborn (Leipzig 1939). h. trimborn, "Francisco de Ávila," Ciencias 3 (1936) 163–174. j. t. polo, "Un Quechuista," Revista histórica del Instituto histórico del Perú 1 (1906) 24–38.
[c. d. valcÁrcel]