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

    Tumacácori

    National Historical Park Arizona

Ramón López

By

Ginny Sphar

Ramón López was city born and reared in Madrid, Spain, perhaps at Court. He had studied three years of philosophy and two of theology before he entered the Franciscan Order in Toledo at age 19-1/2. Still a deacon in 1789, he joined the Mission to the College of Querétaro from the convento in Alcalá de Henares, the famous university town near Madrid.

As he embarked on the ship with the others, the port authorities described Father Ramón as “small, swarthy, black hair and beard, smooth chinned, blue eyes, the left one somewhat divergent.” Thirty years old in 1796, the diminutive, walleyed López was two years Bordoy’s junior.[1]

Father Ramón and Father Mariano Bordoy reached Tumacácori in mid-February 1796 to replace Father Gutiérrez who was supposed to go to Tubutama.

López was made interim chaplain at the Tubac Presidio.[2]

When Father Bartolomé Socies stopped over for a few days at Tumacácori, he found the two getting on each other’s nerves. Poor López, reared at the Court of Madrid, had a delicate stomach. He hated the mission food, particularly when he was sick. So he hardly ate and that made him weak, ill-tempered and more susceptible to sickness. Father Socies counseled them to put aside their differences. Bordoy did hire another cook but after one week, López fired her.

The little madrileño wanted to get away from Bordoy. He resented Socies’ assignment to San Xavier and told him so. He asked Socies why he didn’t stay at Tumacácori and let him (López) go to San Xavier. Socies told him that was not what their superiors wanted and he didn’t want to hear anymore about it.[3]

Ramón López left Tumacácori without regrets on May 29, 1797. Father Iturralde explained why. During the year and three months López had been at Tumacácori he had suffered almost continual fevers. “I believe,” wrote Iturralde, “that because the Father is very delicate, raised at Court, and the cooks are very gross, he eats with repugnance and his stomach turns over and produces pernicious humors.” Iturralde ordered him to Átil, one of two Pimería Alta missions the President considered healthful. López did not improve. In October 1798, his superior moved him to the other “healthful” mission, Caborca.[4] Soon after, Ramón López asked permission to return to the College. It was granted. He left Caborca in 1800. He had suffered enough.



[1] Certification of sailing, December 17, 1789, et al. López was described as a native of “La Villa y Corte de Madrid,” which is to say, the capital. Because his brethren frequently attributed his delicate stomach to his upbringing “en la corte” he may indeed have grown up at the royal court.

[2] Iturralde to Rouset, Tubutama, May 31, 1797, AMS.

[3] Socies to Father Sebastián Ramis, San Xavier del Bac, March 20, 1797, CC, misc.

[4] Iturralde to Father Francisco Miralles, Tubutama, October 2, 1798, CC, 203.29.

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