Bolaños, Luis de

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Founder of the first reductions in Paraguay; b. Marc-hena, Spain, c. 1550; d. Buenos Aires, Oct. 11, 1629. Bolaños became a Franciscan in his native town. In 1572, while still a deacon, he left with the Juan Ortiz de Zárate expedition, and he arrived in Asunción in February 1575. With his friend and patron Fray Alonso de San Buena-ventura, Bolaños began almost at once to visit the native people of Guayrá and Villa Rica and to found pueblos, or reductions, which were later transferred to the Jesuits. Since these provinces were later devastated by the fearsome Mamelukes and the territory now belongs to Brazil, there are no records of these pueblos destroyed by the slave raiders from São Paulo. In 1580 he began the reduction of Pacuyú to the north of Asunción, the first reduction begun by Bolaños of which the name is now known. In 1585, while guardian of the Franciscan friary of Asunción, Bolaños was ordained. In that same year, to the south of Asunción, he founded the famous reductions of San Bias de Itá and San Buenaventura de Yaguarón. Hampered by a lack of help, Bolaños spent the years 1585 to 1607 in caring for the pueblos already founded. In 1607 he began to found another series of reductions to the south of Asunción beginning with San José de Caazapá, still a flourishing city, and ending in 1616 with Baradero near Buenos Aires. In 1623 Bolaños retired to the Franciscan house in Buenos Aires, where he died and where his tomb is still honored.

Bolaños was not only an imaginative missionary but also a true scholar in Amerindian languages and customs and in theology. His Guaraní catechism, approved by the synod of Paraguay in 1603, was used in all the missions of the region, even those of the Jesuits. His grammar and vocabulary in the same tongue were considered the best of their kind. As a theologian, Bolaños defended the validity of the Guaraní pagan marriages and defended them against the colonists. His hymns and poems in Guaraní have passed into the common domain of folklore. As a man Bolaños was beloved by all. Perhaps this is his best testimonial. Few regions of Spanish America were beset with more dissensions than Rio de la Plata. Yet Bolaños was esteemed by none more than by the Jesuits, who worked so closely with him.

Bibliography: a. millÉ, Crónica de la Orden Franciscana en la conquista del Perú, Paraguay, y el Tucumán y su Convento del antigno Buenos Aires 12121800 (Buenos Aires 1961). b. oro, Fray Luis de Bolaños, apóstol del Paraguay y Río de la Plata (Córdoba 1934). r. a. molina, "La obra franciscana en el Paraguay y Rio de la Plata," Missionalia hispánica 11 (1954), esp. 335336.

[l. g. canedo]