Meléndez, Juan de

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Dominican chronicler; b. Lima, Peru, date unknown; d. Lima, 1684. De Meléndez entered the Dominicans at the Convento del Rosario where he completed his studies. After teaching for some years, he was put in charge of studies in the convents of Cuzco and Lima. Later, he was vicar-general of the convents and doctrinas of the archbishopric of Lima and of the bishoprics of Cuzco, Arequipa, Huamanga, Panama, and Darien. In 1671 he was named procurator of the Peruvian Dominican province, and in connection with this position traveled to Madrid and Rome where he gathered material for and wrote his monumental work Tesoros verdaderos de las Indias (v.1, 2 Rome 1681, v.3 1682).

Although he took a great deal of material from other writers, the most valuable part of this chronicle is a detailed description of the city of Lima in the 17th century, including an inventory of corporations, churches, and convents. The last volume includes some lackluster biographical sketches of prominent Dominicans. The style is clear and concise, and shows a strong tendency toward Hispanism.

He was subsequently appointed regent of the Colegio de la Minerva in spite of the provision of its founder, Juan Solano, that the position be held by a religious from Spain. During his residence in Madrid and Rome he was commissioned by his province to promote the cause of the beatification and canonization of Fray Vicente Vernedo, of whom he published a biography in Lima in 1675, La vida y virtudes del Venerable Padre Vicente Vernedo. He published also a memorial to the king (1680), asking the royal influence to be exerted for the cause before the Holy See.

Bibliography: j. de la riva agÜero, La historia en el Perú (2d ed. Madrid 1952). d. angulo, La orden de Santo Domingo en el Perú (Lima 1910).

[j. m. vargas]