First bishop of Tlaxcala, Mexico; b. Munébrega, Aragón, Spain, 1447; d. Puebla, 1542. He was born of a noble family, was educated by a tutor and later at the Sorbonne, and then entered the Dominican convent of San Pedro Mártir in Calatayud. His erudition and fame as a preacher led to a call to the court of Charles V as royal chaplain and confessor to Bp. Rodríguez de Fonseca. The See of Cozumel (later named Yucatán) was established in 1518, and Rodríguez de Fonseca recommended his confessor as bishop. Since there were neither Spaniards nor churches in that diocese, a new see was established at Tlaxcala in 1526, and Garcés was named bishop by Charles V. Early in 1527 he embarked for New Spain. The King conferred on Garcés the title of Protector of the Indians, and ordinances of the Council of the Indies gave him powers necessary to enforce penalties against violators. The fact that the audiencia was persecuting the native Mexicans (between 1528 and 1531) at the same time it was supposed to aid the bishop complicated his work. However, Garcés' exemplary life and zeal resulted in numerous conversions. He wrote Charles V that he baptized no fewer than 300 native Mexicans each week. His championship of native rights won him the enmity of the encomenderos, but ultimately he was successful. His strong letter to the Pope favoring the indigenous peoples is believed responsible for Paul III's bull (1537) declaring them to be truly men with all the rights of men. He was buried in the cathedral of Puebla, where the see was transferred in 1539.
Bibliography: m. cuevas, Historia de la Iglesia en México, 5 v. (5th ed. Mexico City 1946–47). w. e. shiels, King and Church: The Rise and Fall of the Patronato Real (Chicago 1961).
[e. j. goodman]