National Park Service
Kiva, Crown, Crown


The Invaders

The New Mexico: Preliminaries to Conquest

Oñate's Disenchantment

The "Christianization" of Pecos

The Shadow of the Inquisition

Their Own Worst Enemies

Pecos and the Friars

Pecos, the Plains, and the Provincias Internas

Toward Extinction



Chapter 4: The 'Christianization' of Pecos, 1617-1659

Governor Eulate's Wrath

It was night before he rode back into Santa Fe. He made straight for the governor's quarters to report on the tribute payment and on the situation he had found at Pecos. He related exactly how he had admonished the Indians, assuming that the governor would be grateful to him "for having defended his honor and the cause of God." Instead, Eulate exploded. By whose order, he demanded, had Pérez meddled in affairs at Pecos. That was none of his damn business! Stung by such "pharisaical words," Pérez Granillo made his exit, having, as he put it, formed a bad opinion of the governor.

As for Francisco Mosoyo, that "great idolater and witch about whom our Father Custos has compiled an extremely full report," Ortega tried to rehabilitate him and his like-minded brother, "assigning them no greater penance than placing them in the home of Christian and honorable Spaniards." When Eulate heard what the friar had done, he bellowed. The accused must be released at once and sent back to Pecos with a letter informing Fray Pedro that they were not to be harmed but favored. What more could the missionary do? [15]

painting of Plains Apache warrior
A Plains Apache warrior by Lt. J. W. Abert, 1845. Abert, Through the Country of the Comanche Indians (San Francisco, 1970).

A Proper Church for Pecos

At the beginning of the 1620s, the friar at Pecos resided, it would seem, in a modest several-room adobe convento, abutting the "South Pueblo" ruin. He celebrated Mass in a nearby jacal too small for even half the people. Yet well before the end of the decade, his successor presided over "a convento and most splendid temple of singular construction and excellence," the largest in New Mexico. Fray Pedro de Ortega, who gets none of the credit from Benavides—probably at his own insistence—must have had a hand in this ambitious project, at least in its early stages. [16]

There is no doubt that Ortega planned to build a church at Pecos. Several contemporary witnesses testified that he had borrowed teams of oxen from certain Spaniards to haul rock and timber. He already had the animals at the building site in 1621, presumably on the job. Surely before arranging for draft animals, he must have chosen the site and staked out the foundations. That would at least confirm to the credit of Fray Pedro the location as well as the original plan and orientation of the new church.

The site lay a good six to seven hundred feet south of the pueblo proper at the opposite end of the same long mesilla, closer and less isolated than Father San Miguel's 1598 church, but hardly in the laps of the Pecos. [17] To picture the relationship in space of pueblo and projected church, with "neutral zone" between, it is worth pirating a few lines from seaborne ex-Army chaplain, historian, and poet Fray Angelico Chávez:

Let us imagine, first, a long, low mesa of red and buff stone rising above a medium-height forest of piñon and juniper, as also clearings here and there planted with corn. This mesa platform looks roughly like the hull of a massive modern battleship drawing deep water on a choppy sea of evergreens. It lies at anchor, of course.

Along the center of the great stone deck rises a reddish-brown superstructure of mud-plastered stone tenements in four receding tiers. This is the pueblo itself . . . . a low wall of mud-plastered flagstones forms the railing all along the edges of the deck. [18]

To carry Fray Angelico's naval analogy a little further, the grounded dreadnought rides with her broad, ill-shapen bow to the north, as if a norther had swung her around at anchor. Amidships aft she tapers noticeably, all the way back to the slender stem. Precisely there, athwart the poop deck, still within the ship's railing but as far aft of the main superstructure as possible, the friar meant to set his church.

It would face to starboard, to the east like most seventeenth-century New Mexico churches. Because the bedrock deck of the mesilla was not entirely level at its southern or stern end, but rather humped in the center, preparation of an area spacious enough to contain a large church with adjoining convento and cemetery required considerable fill. The massive foundations would rest entirely on the bedrock but they would be deeper at the two extremes than in the middle. [19] Father Ortega may have overseen the hauling of fill with his borrowed oxen, perhaps even laying up some of the stone-faced, rubble foundations, but that was about all. Once again Governor Eulate intervened.

painting of Lipan Apache warrior
A Lipan Apache warrior, after a painting by Arthur Schott. W. H. Emory, Report of the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, vol. I (Washington, D.C., 1857).

Eulate Halts Construction

At every turn, to hear the friars tell it, Eulate thwarted their missionary program. He abused or threatened mission Indians who worked for or cooperated with the Franciscans. He opposed mission expansion, denying escorts to friars who wished to carry the gospel to neighboring heathens, even though he exacted tribute and services from such people whenever he could. When certain encomenderos, like Capt. Francisco Gómez, volunteered as escorts, Eulate ordered them back. But perhaps most scandalous of all, the governor openly obstructed the building or repairing of churches and conventos, even threatening to hang the Indian laborers who refused to quit.

With his outrageous bullying, he brought work on the Santo Domingo and San Ildefonso churches to a standstill, but the one they were all talking about was Pecos. A number of Spaniards had lent Father Ortega their oxen, presumably in the off season, to help build his grand church. One such cooperative citizen was diminutive Canary Islander Juan Luján, a resident of New Mexico since 1600. Eulate accosted him. If he did not send immediately to Pecos for his oxen, he could count on a fine of forty fanegas of maize! Ensign Sebastián Rodríguez, who had traveled to New Mexico with his wife in the company of Eulate and Father Ortega back in 1618, also had oxen on the Pecos project, as did Ensign Juan de Tapia. With them, the governor was even more brutal. If they did not go at once and bring back their animals from Pecos, "he would dispose of them and the oxen." When they protested that they had no horses to ride, Eulate yelled at them "to go on foot and bring in the whips, the yoke straps, and the yokes on their own backs!" [20]

The governor had made his point. "In order to avoid disputes and strife," Father Custos Esteban de Perea reluctantly ordered his religious to stop all building. [21] At Pecos a frustrated Pedro de Ortega complied.

Perea, a fighter if ever there was one, cannot have meant the stoppage as more than a temporary measure calculated to buy time. He had petitioned his Father Provincial to allow him to come to Mexico City and present in person the friars' case against the governor. In August 1621, he appealed to the people of New Mexico to denounce anyone guilty of offenses against the church. At least seven friars responded—including Fathers Ortega and Zambrano—each verifying and expanding upon the list suggested by their superior. Eulate was reported to be in a rage, vowing to have two hundred lashes applied to anyone caught informing against him. To some New Mexicans, it must have seemed as though open warfare between the two factions was about to erupt again as it had less than a decade before. Just then, the supply caravan arrived.

Father Perea's term of office had ended. A new Father Custos, an appeaser, had been dispatched from Mexico City. Instructions from the viceroy to both the prelate and the governor urged restraint and mutual aid. For about a year, a welcome spirit of forbearance overlay the quarrel between church and state. [22] At Pecos that meant a resumption of building, not under the eye of Fray Pedro de Ortega but of another Franciscan, unquestionably the most effective missionary ever to live among the Pecos.

Andrés Juarez of Fuenteovejuna

By the time he moved in at Pecos late in 1621 or early in 1622, Fray Andrés Juarez was a scarred veteran, He had ridden muleback to New Mexico a decade earlier, in the train of Comisario Isidro Ordóñez, who later imprisoned him. While guardian at Santo Domingo, he had suffered the abuse of Governor Eulate's men. At Pecos he would endure the trials of thirteen years, longer than any other missionary in the pueblo's history.

sketch of Franciscan
A Franciscan missionary. After Fray Diego Valades, Rhetorica Christiana (1579)

He was from Spain, from the pleasant oak-studded hill country northwest of Córdoba. His parents, Sebastián Rodríguez Galindo and María Juárez, were natives of Fuenteovejuna, where Andrés was born in 1582, six years before the Armada. All over Andalucía people knew the town for its hearty vino de los guadiatos, the product of vineyards that grew along the banks of the Río Guadiato, and for its rich honey, prized since Roman times. The variant spelling of Fuenteovejuna, which translates Sheep Well, is Fuenteabejuna, Bee Well. Still, it was history, and the incredibly restless pen of Lope de Vega, that conferred upon the town its enduring fame. [23]

Andrés Juárez and Lope de Vega were contemporaries. As a native son of Fuenteovejuna, Juárez, who chose to use his mother's surname instead of his father's, had heard the story told and retold even before Vega popularized it. He was reminded of it every time he entered the parish church of Nuestra Señora del Castillo. On this spot in the eighth century, the Moslems had built a fortress. The Christian knights who stormed back five hundred years later made it a castle. When the crusading military order of Calatrava received the town as a fief, the castle became the palace of the Order's knight commander, or comendador. The deeds of Comendador don Fernán Gómez de Guzmán, and Fuenteovejuna's shocking response, were recorded in the Crónica de la Orden de Calatrava. From its pages, the ebullient libertine Lope de Vega, "Nature's Wonder," mined the story and shaped it into one of the most intense dramas of Spanish classical literature.

It is a story of heroic community solidarity, of mutual action and loyalty in the face of cruel tyranny. The comendador, Fernán Gómez, personifies the jealous and unruly nobility. When not inciting his fellow knights against the Catholic Kings, he delights in seducing the women of Fuenteovejuna, virgin and married alike, sadistically beating the men who object. At last by force he deflowers the comely, high-spirited Laurencia. In her shame, she stands before the town elders and harangues them to vengeance. The people unite, storm the castle, and tear the evil Gómez limb from limb. An investigator dispatched by the king subjects men, women, and children to judicial torture, asking each the question "Quién mató al comendador?" No one breaks. Each replies "Fuente Ovejuna, Señor. Y quién es Fuente Ovejuna? Todos á una!" Throwing themselves on the mercy of Ferdinand and Isabella, the town as a whole is pardoned and royal justice prevails.

This drama, known so well by fuenteovejunense Andrés Juárez, was given to the world by Lope de Vega in 1619—while Juárez was guardian at Santo Domingo. The playwright called it simply "Fuente Ovejuna." [24]

Entry no. 554 in the Convento Grande's "Libro de entradas y profesiones" records the investiture on Thursday, December 4, 1608, of "Andrés Xuárez, native of Fuenteovejuna in the diocese of Córdoba." It gives no hint of when he sailed from Spain to America. He was old enough when he entered the Order, twenty-six, to have had all or most of his priestly training behind him. Concluding his novitiate, he professed his vows on December 5, 1609. Two years later, when recruiter Fray Isidro Ordóñez returned a second time from the missions of New Mexico, six priests and three lay brothers volunteered. Father Juárez was among them. [25]

Since Ordóñez' previous visit to the capital, Oñate's friend, two-term viceroy Luis de Velasco, had gone back to Spain and the archbishop of Mexico, the famed baroque Dominican García Guerra, had succeeded him, ruling as both primate of the Mexican church and chief of state. To unwashed crowds who gathered, mouths agape, to glimpse the great man gesture from his glittering carriage, and to finely attired dignitaries who waited upon his every command, it seemed that Fray García, despite earthquakes, floods, and physical distress, thoroughly relished his awesome dual authority. Judging by the subsequent actions of Isidro Ordóñez in New Mexico, that image was not wasted on the Franciscan. [26]

fray García Guerra
Archbishop-viceroy fray García Guerra, 1611-1612. Rivera Cambas, Los gobernantes, I.

The Supply Train to New Mexico

The officious Ordóñez busied himself with details of supply. By order of the archbishop-viceroy, dated October 1, 1611, he oversaw the purchase, stockpiling, and transportation of goods for the missionaries in the field as well as for those he would shepherd to New Mexico himself, everything from oil paintings of saints in gilded frames, damask vestments, huge illuminated choir books containng introits and antiphonies for the saints' days to forty pairs of sandals, "twelve large latches for, church doors with their locks, keys, and ring staples, and one hundred twenty Sevillan locks for cells with their keys," from two-hundred-pound bells to pins, from vintage wine, raisins, almonds, and peach and quince preserves to olive oil and vinegar. Early in 1612—about the time Viceroy don fray García Guerra breathed his last—they set out, "giving thanks to God," Ordóñez, Juárez, and eight other friars astride saddle mules that had cost the crown 129 pesos 2 tomines each with full trappings. Erect, dark-skinned Capt. Bartolomé Romero, veteran of the Oñate conquest, commanded the armed escort. Whip-cracking muleteers, high aboard the twenty heavy, groaning wagons overloaded with the mission goods, cursed their mule teams and their luck. Sundry servants, animals, and hangers-on ate dust at the rear. [27]

The journey north from Zacatecas, which they must have left late in March, was hell. But for a few poor settlements, the country through which they rode for a hundred leagues was "desolate . . . almost without any convenience or refuge." The friars, "almost all raw recruits and hardly world travelers," found themselves forced to do without necessities, "things we could have got in Mexico City." The temperature climbed. They griped. To a man, said a harsh critic of Ordóñez, they laid the blame to Fray Isidro "for having perversely misinformed us about the road." One lay brother lost heart and deserted. When the superior admonished the others at the Río Florido to make do in the knowledge that they would appreciate the provisions even more in their isolated missions, they tightened their cords. After all it was not material comfort that had moved them to become missioners, rather the love of God. Therefore, "with confidence in His Divine Majesty and in accord with what Father Ordóñez proposed and promised, we traveled on and suffered en route what only Our Lord knows." [28]

Map of New Mexico by Lt. Col. Francisco Álvarez Berreiro, 1727 (AGI, Torres Lanzas, México, 122). Drawn as a result of the inspection by Brigadier Pedro de Rivera in 1726, it shows the approximate position of the Jicarilla, Carlana, and "Faraón" Apaches on the eve of their disruption by the Comanches, who are conspicuously absent. Courtesy of the Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla, Spain.

Juárez Tested

Neither did the suffering cease when they reached New Mexico. Father Ordóñez had allegedly tongue lashed several of the friars on the road. He continued to do so in the missions. Juárez' turn came soon enough. Evidently assigned first to the convento in Sante Fe where he witnessed the shooting incident involving Governor Peralta, Fray Andrés suffered Ordóñez' wrath on several occasions in public. It mortified him. The sin of vengeance welled within his breast. He had to get out, to carry word of the local prelate's excesses to his superiors in Mexico City. Juárez would gladly pay for his desertion with whatever penance they prescribed.

The attempt of Andrés Juárez to flee New Mexico, like most everything else known about the regime of Comisario Ordóñez, was recorded by Fray Francisco Pérez Huerta, who considered Ordóñez a monster. Whatever the facts of the case, Pérez Huerta's interpretations were sure to be colored. According to him, Father Juárez hired a manservant for the journey and made secret plans to slip away. The servant informed Ordóñez. Rather than confront the scheming friar, the comisario gave him the rope to hang himself.

Unaware that his servant had betrayed him, Juárez headed for Galisteo to provision himself. There the Father Guardian gave him what he could, at the same time trying to talk him out of taking so rash a step. Juárez would not listen. It was in God's hands now. If he did not go, he knew he would "either hang himself or kill the Father Comisario." Pérez Huerta gave him the arquebus and horse armor he wanted.

Meanwhile, having sworn the other friars to silence under their vow of obedience and on pain of excommunication, Ordóñez laid a trap. Waiting undercover just far enough down the road to establish without a doubt Juárez' intention, he grabbed the startled friar, confiscated the letter of Pérez Huerta he was carrying to Mexico City, and soundly rebuked him in front of a layman. "Straight-away they took him prisoner to the convento of Santo Domingo where he was absolved and actually put in the jail for a term of four months."

Fray Andrés Juárez

Confinement seemed to take the fire out of Fray Andrés, at least for a while. It was Ordóñez who left New Mexico. Juárez became guardian at Santo Domingo. Unlike Custos Perea and Father Zambrano, he did not attack Governor Eulate. He saw work on the Santo Domingo church stop because of the governor's threats. Still, when the opportunity to testify against Eulate presented itself, Juárez had little original to say. He did not even mention what allegedly happened on Sunday, August 1, 1621. He had gone in to say Mass for the Spaniards of Sante Fe, then returned to preach in Santo Domingo. After his sermon, Capt. Pedro Durán y Chávez, one of Eulate's closest supporters, was supposed to have quipped that what Father Juárez needed was a good punch in the nose. [29]

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