Padilla, Juan de

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PADILLA, JUAN DE

Martyr, missionary; b. Andalusia, Spain, c. 1500; d. c. 1542. He arrived in Mexico in 1528. Little is known of his background, but he had reportedly been a soldier in his youth and had joined the Order of Friars Minor in Spain. He accompanied the expedition of Nuño de Guzmán to New Galicia in 1529 and 1530. He went to Tehuantepec in 1533 to join an expedition that Hernando Cortez planned to send to the Orient. When the expedition did not materialize, he served in the Indian missions of Poncitlan and Tuchpán and founded the Franciscan friaries of Zapotlan and Tamazula. He also was superior at Tulantzingo. In 1540 Padilla joined Francisco Vázquez de Coronado's expedition to New Mexico. On the way north he was in the vanguard of the expedition with the exploratory groups. He went with Capt. Pedro de Tovar to the Hopi pueblos in July and August 1540; with Capt. Pedro de Alvarado across western New Mexico to the Rio Grande pueblos in August and September 1540; with Don Lope de Urrea to Pecos in the summer of 1541; and with Coronado's select team in the final dash to Quivira. When Coronado returned to Mexico in 1542, Padilla stayed behind to work among the Indians. In the spring of 1542 he set out for Quivira, accompanied by two Indian assistants, a Portuguese named Andrés do Campo, a few personal servants, and some Wichita braves from Quivira. He was well received among the Quivirans, but during a visit to another tribe he was attacked and killed by strange Indians. Do Campo and the two Indian assistants escaped and, after several years of wandering, reached Mexico to tell their story. The first priest to be martyred on what became U.S. soil, Padilla is commemorated on November 30.

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