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

    Tumacácori

    National Historical Park Arizona

Manuel Fernández Saravia

By

Ginny Sphar

Father Saravia was tall, thin faced, with black hair and blue eyes. He came from Pala de Lena, some 20 miles south of Oviedo, in Asturias. He had sailed with the smaller first wave of the 1789 Mission aboard the frigate San Juan Nepomuceno.[1] At the College of Querétaro he was literally struck dumb. As his superior had noted in late 1795, Fernández Saravia was “unable to practice the ministry because he is totally without a voice.” Evidently he had recovered enough to set out for the missions in 1802.

He had been working at Caborca with Father Sánchez. On February 19, 1804, the 41-year-old Saravia baptized a newborn child at Tumacácori. But he did not last. Soon after mid-June 1804 he transferred to Sáric where he died of a seizure on November 11, 1804, unable to receive viaticum.



[1] Certification of sailing, Marqués del Surco, Cádiz, November 14, 1789, AGI, Mex., 2735. Lista de los religiosos, Rivera, CSCQ, September 22, 1795, ibid., 2737. It would appear that Fernández Saravia, Joseph Ignacio Ramírez, and Gregorio Ruíz were three of the four who rode north from the College in early 1802 “with the Father President.” Geiger, “A Voice from San Xavier del Bac (1802-1805),” Provincial Annals, Vol. 16 (1953), p. 7. For some reason Gutiérrez entered the three baptisms celebrated by Fernández Saravia (February 18, March 31, and June 11, 1804); the latter only signed them. DCB. CSCQ, Libro de difuntos.

Did You Know?

Anza Expedition camp

Captain Juan Bautista de Anza of Tubac led over 300 people from here to the San Francisco Bay in 1775-76 to establish a Spanish colony and presidio there.