Parras, Pedro José
PARRAS, PEDRO JOSÉ
Franciscan missionary and writer; b. Pancrudo, near Teruel, Spain, c. 1710; d. Córdoba, Argentina, Sept. 7,1784. Parras joined the Franciscan Order in Aragon and was being trained to teach when he volunteered for the missions of Río de la Plata. In 1748 his expedition was in Cádiz at the same time as that of Junípero serra. After arriving in Buenos Aires, Parras traveled to Paraguay as visitator of the Franciscan province. His learning and moderate tendencies were valued by Manuel Antonio de la Torre, bishop of Paraguay, who chose him as his adviser on his official visit to the Jesuit Reductions in 1759, and also by Pedro de Cevallos, the governor of Paraguay. Parras was not a member of the anti-Jesuit group, and his attitude was reflected in the objective position of Cevallos. Both Cevallos and Parras returned to Spain in 1766, where Parras attended the General Chapter of the Order (Valencia 1768) as delegate of the Argentine Province and remained to become guardian of the Franciscan house in Zaragoza. When the Portuguese threat again increased in La Plata, Cevallos was sent back, and he requested Parras to accompany him. Grateful for his services, Cevallos frequently recommended him for a bishopric, but this was opposed by the Commissary General of the Indies, Manuel de Vega. Parras was named rector of the University of Córdoba, Argentina, in 1778, a post he filled with great success and tact until his death. He published two works of permanent merit: Diario y derrotero de sus viajes (1749–52), a delightful travel account of his trip from Valencia to Paraguay, together with an appendix of his report on the Jesuit Reductions in 1759; and Gobierno de los regulares de la América (2 v. Madrid 1783), a masterful account of the legal position of religious in Spanish America at that time; it is clear, reasonable, and often marked by a touch of humor.
Bibliography: p. j. parras, Fray Pedro José de Parras: Diario y derrotero de sus viajes, 1749–1753 (Buenos Aires 1943). p. pastells, ed., Historia de la Compañía de Jesús en la provincia del Paraguay, 8 v. in 9 (Madrid 1912–49).
[l. g. canedo]