Molina, Alonso de

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Franciscan missionary and linguist; b. Spain, probably in the province of Estremadura, 1512 or 1513; d. Mexico City, 1585. Soon after the conquest of Mexico in 1521, his parents moved to the new land, where his father died. The boy became proficient in Nahuatl, the language of the Azteots. When the Franciscans arrived in 1524 with no knowledge of Nahuatl, they asked that the boy be allowed to live with them. He took up residence in the Franciscan community, sharing the common life of the friars and serving as their interpreter. In 1527 he became a Franciscan, and he was ordained probably in 1534 or 1535. He became an excellent preacher in Nahuatl. In 1555 he was guardian of the friary of Texcoco; in 1559, of Tecamachalco; and in 1571, of San Francisco in Puebla. He is best remembered for his pioneering studies in Nahuatl and for his writings in that language. His linguistic works include Vocabulario en la lengua castellana y mexicana and Arte de la lengua mexicana y castellana. His published writings of a religious and pastoral nature include Doctrina christiana breve, Confesionario breve and Confesionario mayor, and Sumario de las indulgencias concedidas a los confrades del sanctísimo sacramento. He also translated the Epistles and the Gospels of the Roman Missal and the Office of Our Lady into Nahuatl, but these were not published because of a prohibition against printing the sacred scriptures in the vernacular.

Bibliography: r. zulaica garate, Los Franciscanos y la imprenta en México en el siglo XVI (Mexico City 1939).

[f. b. warren]

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Molina, Alonso de

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