Palafox y Mendoza, Juan de

views updated


Spanish bishop of Puebla, Mexico; b. Fitero, Navarre, Spain, 1600; d. Osma, Spain, 1659. Even in recent times Palafox has been a subject of controversy and heated discussion. The illegitimate son of Jaime Palafox, Marquesa of Ariza, he studied in Salamanca and was ordained after having served as fiscal to the Councils of War and the Indies. As chaplain he accompanied Empress María to Germany. In 1610 he arrived in Mexico, in the same group that included the new viceroy López Pacheco, Duke of Escalona, to assume his duties as bishop of Puebla de los Angeles. Along with his appointment as bishop, Palafox had been designated Visitor of the audiencia and of the University of Mexico. The viceroy, a first cousin of the Duke of Braganza in Portugal, became suspect during the war for Portuguese independence and was recalled to Spain. Palafox, who had also suspected López of sympathy for the Portuguese cause, took over the post of viceroy for a few months but later, recognizing the viceroy's loyalty to the King, returned to his diocese.

The bishop's ecclesiastical policies brought him into conflict with several religious orders, particularly the Jesuits, with whom he had a famous lawsuit that originated when Palafox denied the Jesuits the right to hear confessions and preach. The dispute lasted several years and was eventually settled in favor of the bishop. A cultured and enthusiastic person, Palafox worked zealously. He supported education, enlarging the existing institutions such as the Tridentine College, and founding new ones, such as a girls' school and a literary academy to which he gave a library of 6,000 volumes, known today as the Biblioteca Palafoxiana de Puebla. In 1644 he inspected the University of Mexico and the next year drafted a new constitution for it. It was not well received by some members of the faculty, especially the religious, who had been excluded from the rectorship. At their request the viceroy suspended the constitution. It was not confirmed by the king until 1649, after Innocent X settled the case between Bishop Palafox and the Jesuits, and through a series of complications it did not become effective until 1671.

On his return to Spain in 1649, Palafox was minister of the Council of Aragon and later became bishop of Osma. His fame as a holy man brought the introduction of his cause for beatification. In 1767 the pope confirmed his "reputation for sanctity, virtue, and miracles in genere. " Palafox wrote many workscanonical, religious, moral, political, historical, and literarywhich were published in 15 volumes after his death. His political writings reflect a great concern for the decline of Spanish power, and in Juicio político de los daños y reparos de cualquiera monarquía he analyzed the foreign and national policies that contributed to the decline. Although he was essentially a Hispanist, Palafox was able to see the importance of the various nations, that is, of the multiple nationality of the monarchy. He pleaded for the recognition of the individuality of each group and its equality with Castile and decried the distrust that prevented the full use of the monarchy's resources and energy.

Bibliography: g. garcÍa, Don Juan Palafox y Mendoza, obispo de Puebla y Osma, visitador y virrey de la Nueva España (Mexico City 1918). j. l. becerra lÓpez, La organización de los estudios en la Nueva España (Mexico City 1963).

[h. pereÑa]