Valencia, Martín de
VALENCIA, MARTÍN DE
Franciscan missionary, leader of the "Twelve Apostles of Mexico"; b. Valencia de Don Juan, near León, Spain, c. 1473; d. near Tlalmanalco, Mexico, March 21, 1534.
Although originally he joined the Franciscan Province of Santiago, Valencia was later attracted by the austere reform being fostered by Juan de Guadalupe in the Portuguese Province of La Piedad, and he transferred to that province. After the reformer's death in 1505, the friars from Santiago asked him to return, offering a separate house for the members of the reform; later six more houses joined the reform. In 1516 these were united with four Extremaduran houses of the Province of La Piedad to form the Custody of San Gabriel. On Aug. 14, 1520, the custody was made an independent province, and Valencia was elected its first provincial.
The Franciscan Minister General, Francisco de los Angeles quiÑones, commanded him to lead a select group of friars from his province to Mexico as the first formal Franciscan mission there. On Jan. 25, 1524, he sailed with eleven companions from Sanlucar de Barrameda. This group, known as the "Twelve Apostles of Mexico," arrived in Veracruz on May 12, 1524. In Mexico City on July 2, 1524, they organized their custody and elected Valencia as custos. By royal and papal appointment, he was now head of the infant Church in Mexico.
Valencia was of a retiring nature and in poor health, and he let other friars handle conflicts with the civil authorities. In the chapter of 1527 he was appointed guardian of Tlaxcala, where he built a friary called Madre de Dios. He was never able to master the native languages and instructed the indigenous people through interpreters. In January 1533 he led seven friars to Tehuantepec, intending to sail to new mission lands in the Far East. The expedition was unable to depart, and in July he returned to Mexico City for the election of a new custos. He then retired to Tlalmanalco.
Bibliography: t. motolinÍa, History of the Indians of New Spain, tr. and ed. f. b. steck (Washington 1951). s. escalante plancarte, Fray Martin de Valencia (Mexico City 1945).
[f. b. warren]