Puerto, Nicolás del

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Bishop of Oaxaca, Mexico; b. of indigenous parents in the mountain village of Santa Catalina Minas, near Oaxaca (date unknown); d. Oaxaca, 1681. His early studies, it seems, were made with the Jesuits in Oaxaca and were continued in the Jesuit Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City where he studied philosophy and jurisprudence. He then entered the diocesan seminary. After ordination, he spent some time in Oaxaca; but he left owing to what he considered discrimination, when another was chosen for an ecclesiastical post over him. He was reported to have said that he would not return to his native city except as bishop. In 1642 he entered the Colegio Mayor de Santos in Mexico City, where he received the degree of doctor, and where he later taught and was rector and chancellor. In May 1656 he was made canon of the cathedral of Mexico and in the following year was appointed commissioner general of the Cruzada. He was also consultor of the Inquisition and vicar-general of the archdiocese. The bulls from Spain formally appointing Puerto as commissioner general of the Cruzada were late in arriving, and this created a problem. The appointee resolved the difficulty by placing a seal on one of the former bulls of Cruzada. He informed the Council of the Indies of his actions, which they approved. Having studied law, Puerto also aimed at the chair of Canon Law in the University of Mexico. In two competitive examinations he was defeated. However, convinced that he had been unjustly treated in the second examination, he appealed to the royal court, which ruled in his favor. Satisfied with the decision, he did not press for the chair, which was given to his opponent. In February of 1679 Puerto was appointed bishop of Oaxaca despite his advanced years. He had been bishop for only two years when he died, but he lived long enough to see the establishment of a seminary, which his predecessor had received permission to build, and which opened in January 1681.

Bibliography: j. a. gay, Historia de Oaxaca, 2 v. (Mexico City 1881). j. m. beristaÍn de souza, Biblioteca hispano-americana septentrional, 5 v. in 2 (3d ed. Mexico City 1947).

[c. e. ronan]

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Puerto, Nicolás del

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