Martí, Mariano

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MARTÍ, MARIANO

Spanish bishop and educator; baptized Bafrim, Tarragona, Spain, Dec. 14, 1721; d. Caracas, 1792. The details of Martí's life are sketchy and hard to obtain. He was the son of a rural physician of Bafrim. He studied in the provincial seminary and took the doctorate in civil and Canon Law at the University of Cervera, no longer in existence. He was vicar-general of the archbishopric of Tarragona in 1761 when his name was suggested by the King of Spain for the See of Puerto Rico, left vacant on the death of Bp. Pedro Martínez de Oneca. As soon as the appointment was confirmed, Martí left for his diocese and he was consecrated on Jan. 17, 1762, in La Guaira, Venezuela, by Bp. Diego Antonio Díez Madroñero, to whose see Martí succeeded eight years later. In Puerto Rico he began his pastoral visits almost at once. On Nov. 26, 1763, he was in Arecibo and on Jan. 17, 1764, in Coamo and Río Piedras. The report of that visit, no longer available, contained important statistical data indicating that the island had 6,440 citizens and 46,197 residents. Martí gave special attention to the problem of education. By a decree of 1764, schools were established in Bayamó and Guaynabo and, according to Cuesta Mendoza, he was responsible for starting schools in 20 other towns on the island. The same year he began his visits to the overseas territories of the diocese: Trinidad, Margarita Island, and the vast expanse of eastern Venezuela, which later became part of the Diocese of Guiana. On Aug. 19, 1764, he arrived in Cumaná and on March 18, 1766, in Nueva Guayana or Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar), Venezuela. In June he returned to Cumaná and then to Margarita where he survived an earthquake on Oct. 21, 1766. He stayed on the island until May 1767, possibly helping to repair the ravages of the disaster. Unfortunately the report of this visit has not been preserved. In poor health because of his arduous journeys, he renounced the episcopacy. The king would not accept the resignation, but instead ordered the Council of the Indies to find another diocese for Martí. On Dec. 9, 1768, he signed a confidential report on the clergy of Puerto Rico. The bishop of Caracas died on Feb. 3, 1769, and Martí was appointed in November to succeed him; he arrived in Caracas in June 1770 to take possession of the diocese. More is known of his work in Venezuela than of that in Puerto Rico. While he was bishop, part of the diocese was separated to form the bishopric of Mérida. During his 21 years in Caracas, Martí ordained 532 priests. His most memorable accomplishment was the pastoral visit that took from 1771 to 1784. A monument to his untiring zeal and spirit of sacrifice, the visit also supplied the most complete collection of geographical, demographical, statistical, and artistic data on Venezuela at that time. Martí's extant works are: the final Relación; the Compendio; manuscripts of two volumes of administrative suggestions and five volumes of inventories; and his "personal" or "secret" papers, which contain valuable confidential reports and references.

Bibliography: j. suria, El eximo prelado doctor Mariano Martí, obispo de Caracas y Venezuela (Caracas 1962). a. cuesta, mendoza, Historia de la educación en el Puerto Rico colonial, 2v. (Mexico 194648).

[l. g. canedo]