• Sunlight illuminates the top of historic Mission San José de Tumacácori church.

    Tumacácori

    National Historical Park Arizona

Joaquín Antonio de Belarde

San José de Tumacácori

Tumacácori

By

Ginny Sphar

Father Joaquín was a Basque from Vitoria, Spain, and had become a Franciscan at the convento grande in Vitoria in 1764. He was blue eyed, with brown hair and about 5’6”.

When the Mission for the College of Querétaro was announced in the chapter room of the palatial convent, Belarde volunteered. Because he thought his loving parents might try to dissuade him, Father Joaquín asked that his license to join the missionary group be sent secretly. It was and he set out with the others for the Puerta de Santa María.

While they were waiting for passage, Belarde reached the age for the priesthood—24 years. At the request of Comisario Juan Domingo Arricivita, the Bishop of Cádiz ordained Belarde before they sailed.

He came to Sonora in 1773, full of hope and zeal. As compañero to Father Matías Gallo, he ministered to the Seris at Pitic. He substituted for Father Font at San José de Pimas. In the fall of 1776, he was among the displaced friars at Imuris. When, for their own safety, Father President Ramos scattered them throughout Pimería Alta, Father Belarde drew San Xavier del Bac. From there he moved up to Tumacácori, at least as early as September 1777.[1]

Arriquibar and Belarde worked together through the spring of 1779.

Belarde left first, apparently for San Xavier. He died “of a fever” at Cieneguilla, March 5, 1781, at the age of 35.



[1] Arricivita, Lista, 1769. Madoz, Diccionario, Vol. 16, p. 345. Arricivita, Crónica seráfica, p. 560. Lists of personnel, ACQ, M. Font to Ximénez, November 30, 1776, and January 20, 1777. Belarde seemed to take over the burials at Tumacácori. A hiatus in the records, where several pages were removed, ends with Belarde’s entry on September 24, 1777. His last entry as Arriquibar’s compañero at Tumacácori, also a burial, was dated May 30, 1779. DCB.

Did You Know?

The first roof replacement in 1921

It is estimated that since 1917 over 20 million dollars have been spent on the preservation and upkeep of Tumacácori's ruins.