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López de Mendoza Grajales, Francisco

LÓPEZ DE MENDOZA GRAJALES, FRANCISCO

Founder of the first permanent mission in the United States; b. Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, date unknown; d. place and date unknown. He accompanied the expedition of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, which sailed from Cádiz for Florida on June 29, 1565. On Friday, Aug. 10, 1565, the expedition reached Puerto Rico, where López was offered, but refused, a chaplaincy. Menéndez's fleet reached St. Augustine on the Florida coast on Sept. 8,1565. After military ceremonies accompanying the landing, solemn Mass was chanted in honor of the Blessed Virgin on the feast of her nativity; the site is marked on the grounds of the Mission of Nombre de Dios, St. Augustine. In 1565 López accompanied a group sent by Menéndez to start a colony at Santa Lucia, on the east coast of Florida. The party was attacked by natives, nearly died of starvation, and was driven back by storms when it attempted to reach Havana, Cuba. Eventually, the expedition was rescued by Menéndez. In 1566 new colonists, including five priests, arrived at St. Augustine. From this date López acted as pastor of the first white settlement in the United States. In a letter to the king of Spain, written on Aug. 6, 1567, López designated himself "vicar of Florida" and "chaplain and vicar." In the same letter he spoke of a slight illness that troubled him. It is not known how long he remained in St. Augustine after this.

Bibliography: f. lÓpez de mendoza grajales, "Memoria" in e. ruidiaz y caravia, La Florida: Su conquista y colonización por Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, 2 v. (Madrid 1893) 2:431465.

[j. p. hurley]

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