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Pérez de Rivas, Andrés


Jesuit missionary, historian, and administrator; b. Córdoba, Spain, 1575; d. Mexico City, March 26, 1655. Little is known of his early years other than that he studied at the Jesuit school in his native city. He did not enter the Jesuit order until 1602, after he had been ordained a diocesan priest. Departing from custom in the order, Pérez de Rivas, while still a novice, was sent in 1602 to Mexico and completed his novitiate in Puebla. By the fall of 1604, he was at work in the San Felipe mission on the Río Sinaloa. By 1605 he had learned the native languages of the area and moved farther north to the Fuerte River region of Sinaloa, where with Jesuit companions he established several mission stations. Pérez de Rivas was next assigned to the Yaqui mission in Sonora. This whole missionary movement in the present Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora contributed greatly to extending the frontier up the mainland coast of the gulf and ultimately to Alta California. By the end of 1619 poor health forced the recall of Pérez de Rivas from the missions. Administrative positions in the order and historical writing occupied the rest of his life.

Of his works, Historia de los triumphos de nuestra sante fee entre gentes los más barbaros y fieros del Nuevo Orbe (Madrid 1645) is the most important. In 12 books, the author covers the Jesuit missionary endeavor in northern New Spain from 1591 to 1643. The first part of the work tells of the mission expansion from the Río Sinaloa up along the coast, over the rivers that fall into the Gulf of California, and up hundreds of miles into the Sonora Valley. The second part narrates the missionary development in the Sierra Madre Mountains of the west, and on the eastern plains in present Durango and Coahuila. The third part, consisting of only the 12th and last book of the work, treats of the early Florida mission. It is one of the finest accounts that exists concerning mission history and the gradual development of the colonial frontier. Under the title Páginas para la historia de Sinaloa y Sonora; Triumphos de nuestra santa fee, it was reedited in Mexico City in 1944. Pérez de Rivas's other published work of considerable importance is his Corónica y historia religiosa de la provencio de la compañía de Jesús de Mexico en la Nueva España, 2 v. (Mexico City 1896), which traces the history of the order from the coming of the first Jesuits to New Spain in 1572, to 1654. The published edition of the work omits numerous chapters, most of which are biographical. A short treatise on the life of Father Juan de Ledesma was printed in Mexico in 1636, and an answer to the Bishop of Puebla, Juan de palafox, concerning some financial aspects of certain Jesuit schools in 1641. At least four other known works exist in manuscript form and deal with theological matters and different phases of the history of the order in New Spain.

Bibliography: p. m. dunne, Andrés Pérez de Ribas: Pioneer Black Robe of the West Coast, Administrator, Historian (New York 1951).

[n. f. martin]

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