González, Roque, St.

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Jesuit missionary and martyr; b. Asunción, Paraguay, 1576; d. Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, Nov. 15, 1628. He was probably ordained on March 25, 1599; he dedicated his life to the evangelization of the Native South Americans. He was appointed priest of the cathedral and, in 1609, vicar-general of the diocese. On May 9, 1609, he entered the Society of Jesus. In 1615 he began his missionary work by founding the Reduction of Itapúa and in subsequent years other such settlements, until in 1620 he was appointed by his superiors to give religious instruction to the inhabitants of the area that is now the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. There he was martyred at the Reduction of Todos los Santos, the last one he founded. He was beatified in 1934 and canonized in 1988. He had two companions in his martyrdom. The first, Alonso Rodríguez, was born in Zamora, Spain, on March 10, 1598. He entered the Society of Jesus on March 25, 1614, and arrived in Buenos Aires on February 15, 1617. After completing his studies, he gave religious instruction to the native peoples for four years. Two days later, Juan del Castillo died at the Reduction of La Asunción. He was born in Belmonte, Spain, September 14, 1596, and he entered the Society of Jesus on March 22, 1614. Assigned to Paraguay, he arrived in Buenos Aires with Rodríguez and worked among the natives there for three years.

Feast: Nov. 17

Bibliography: h. thurston, "The First Beatified Martyr of Spanish America," Catholic Historical Review 20 (193435) 371383. l. g. jaeger, Os-bem aventurados Roque González, Alfonso Rodríquez e João del Castillo: Mártires do Caaró e Pirapó (2d ed. Pôrto Alegre 1951).

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