Eusebio Francisco Kino

pencil portrait, shaggy hair, square jaw
This sketch was made in 1964 after studying portraits of Kino's relatives and descendants.

Frances O'Brien

Quick Facts
Founding missionary and pioneer of the Pimería Alta
Place of Birth:
Segno, Italy
Date of Birth:
August 10, 1645
Place of Death:
Magdalena, Sonora
Date of Death:
March 15, 1711
Place of Burial:
Magdalena, Sonora

When Jesuit Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino arrived in the Pimería Alta in 1687, his assignment was to establish missions in New Spain’s northwestern frontier. 
As Kino wrote, he served two majesties – the Church and the Crown. For the Church, missions saved souls and spread the Christian faith. For the Crown, they served as training grounds for native people to learn their assigned role as subjects of the King and citizens of a growing New Spain. 

Resistance, politics, disease, and finances were among the setbacks missionaries encountered. Kino’s amiable nature and tireless work ethic helped him convince people to adopt a new religion, culture, and way of life.

Kino spent the last years of his life founding and supporting missions among the O’odham. His missions not only achieved the goals of Church and Crown, they became a focus of the region’s cultural identity.

Padre Kino envisioned a bright  future for the Pimería Alta. In his mind, missions would secure salvation for their people, along with economic growth, safety, and the expansion of Spanish culture.

Not everyone shared Kino’s optimism. Church officials were at times skeptical and native people worried about the realities of mission life. No matter the situation, Kino never stopped praising the virtues of the land and people of the Pimería Alta. He successfully convinced officials to send priests and supplies. He explored and mapped, baptised and buried, taught and negotiated. 

After Kino’s death, his missions carried on. New Spain became Mexico. The border with the United States divided the Pimería Alta. The culture that developed around the missions of the Pimería Alta persists throughout the borderlands today. Kino’s unyielding faith in the people around him and his determination to envision a bright future for them created a lasting legacy.

Padre Kino stood 5'6" tall and was solidly built. He had a broad nose, deep-set eyes, and a pronounced brow. he was dark skinned with wavy black hair. He entered the Jesuit college at Trent and went on to the Jesuit college at Hall near Innesbruck, Austria. He joined the Company of Jesus on November 20, 1665 after an illness which nearly claimed his life. He also attended the Universities of Landsberg, Inlolstadt, Innesbruck, Munich, and Oehingen. He came to the New World in 1681 and was appointed missionary and royal cosmographer for the California Expedition on October 28, 1682.

Over the next twenty-four years he established 24 missions and visitas and set up the foundation for modern agriculture and livestock raising. He promoted apprenticeships of artisans and similar trades. He travelled and explored extensively.



1645, Aug 10 - Born in Segno, Val di Non di Trento, christened with the name of Eusebius, at the Chapel of Torra, in northern Italy.

1664, Nov 20 - Joins the company of Jesus and for the next 13 years, he makes his studies at the University of Landsberg, Freiburg, Ingolstadt and Grammer in Hall.

1678, May 2 - Leaves Genoa for Spain with 18 other missionaries and sojourns during three years between Seville and Cádiz.

1681, Jan 27 - Starts his voyage to New Spain that lasts three months.

1681, May 3 - Arrives at the Port of Vera Cruz in New Spain.

1682, Oct 28 - He is appointed Missionary and Royal cosmographer to the California Expedition under the command of Admiral Don Isidro Atondo y Antillón. Father Matías Goñi, a missionary, is appointed to join Kino’s expedition.

1683, Apr 4 - Arrives at Bahía de la Paz (Baja California) and names it “La Santisma Trinidad.” However, on July 15, 1683, the expedition abandons La Paz.

1683, Oct 6 - Second expedition to California, arriving in San Bruno (near Loreto). Here, he builds a mission and establishes a Fort. He plants the first vineyard in California. A catechism is written in the “Güimi” language. Father Copart accompanies him on this expedition.

1684 Aug 15 - Father Copart takes Kino’s final vows as a Jesuit.

1685, Apr 8 - San Bruno’s mission is abandoned.

1685, Nov 20 - He is appointed missionary to the Seri and the Guaymas Indian tribes.

1687, Mar 13 - Arrives in Cucurpe and the Pimería Alta, establishing his first mission “Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Cósari” there. It’s the beginning of his life-time titanic work that lasts 24 years, building 24 missions and “visitas.” The Indians’ living conditions in those days were considerably improved. He sets up the basis for agriculture and cattle-growing. He promotes apprenticeships of artisans and similar trades.

1689, Jan 19 - He and Father González--on the latter’s visit--travel together throughout al the missions that had been built to that date: Dolores, Magdalena, San Ignacio, Imuris and Remedios. The first missionaries arrive. They are: Luis Maria Pinelli, to San Ignacio, Magdalena and El Tupo; Antonio Arias, to Tubutama and San Antonio de Oquitoa; Father Pedro Sandoval, to San Lorenzo del Saric and San Ambrosio de Tucubavia; and Father Juan de Castillejo, to Santiago de Cocóspera and San Lorenzo María Sumaca.

1690, Dec 24 - Father Salvatierra and Father Kino visit the missions and both envision the possibility of obtaining support for the missions in California.

1691, Jan - They visit the Sobaípuris of Tumacácori, thus arriving for the first time in what is the present state of Arizona.

1692, Aug - He begins explorations up north and reaches what would later become San Xavier del Bac.

1692 - Some more missionaries arrive: Father Augustín de Campos to San Ignacio, Magdalena and El Tupo; Father Januski to Tubutama; and Father Barli to Cocóspera.

1692, Dec 11 - Explores the Altar River, together with Fathers Campos and Leal, all accompanied by Capitán Carrasco. They arrive at “Cerro El Nazareno” over-looking California. Upon his return, he establishes “Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Conceptión” in Caborca.

1693, Apr 23 - He distributes his time between the parishes of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores and San Ignacio in Caborca. He makes trips to Caborca in the company of Lt. Juan Mateo Mange and starts the building of a ship.

1694, Feb - For the first time he enters the Sobe (Caborca) nation, accompanied by Father Marcos Antonio Kappus from Cucurpe and Lt. Juan Mateo Mange. On his second incursion, he discovers the port of Santa Sabina.

1694, Oct 21 - Father Francisco Javier Saeta arrives in Caborca.

1694, Nov - Explores the Gila River up the Casa Grande ruins.

1695, Apr 2 - Father Francisco Javier Saeta is sacrificed by the Indians. An uprising over the Pimería Alta takes place and Father Kino reestablishes peace.

1695, Nov 16 - He goes to Mexico on horseback, arriving 7 weeks later[1] to explain about the Pimería uprising. He requests authorization for further expeditions to California.

1697 - Father Kino makes several incursions up north with the Sobaípuris. He goes as far as San Xavier del Bac and the Quiburi, exploring the Santa María and San Pedro rivers, as far as their merger with the Gila River. He’s accompanied by Captain Juan Mateo Mange.

1698, Feb 25 - The Apaches attach Cocóspera, San Ignacio and Magdalena, whereupon these missions were totally ravaged. Furthermore, the Coro Chief of the Sobaípuris defeats them in battle.

1698, Sep 22 - Together with Capt. Diego Carrasco, he explores the Gila River; however, he falls sick at San Andres. He later heads toward the south and explores the “Papaguería,” and from the top of the “Cerro del Pinicate,” he sights for the first time the Gulf of California.

1699, Feb 7 - Fathers Kino and Adamo Gil, and Capt. Mange, explore what was known as “Satan’s Route.” As they go across the desert, they discover the mouth of the San Pedro River, leading to the Gila. Mange sees, from a distance, the Gila and the Colorado rivers’ merger.

1699, Oct 24 - Fathers Kino, Leal and Gonzalvo explore the Papaguería.

1700, Mar 20 - In Dolores he receives 20 blue shells, as a gift.

1700, Apr - Second Lt. Juan Bautista Escalante brings in Tepoaca Indians to the village of Santa María de Magdalena.

1700, Apr 28 - The building of a larger church in San Xavier is initiated.

1700, May 1 - At the conference of the “Blue Shells,” the natives affirm that a passage by land to California is possible. Kino heads toward this passage which leads to his discovery of California.

1700, Sep - Expedition to the north and discovery of the Colorado River, across the desert, through “Satan’s Route,” (Camino del Diablo).

1701, Mar 1 - Along with Salvatierra, he plans a new expedition to the Colorado. From Sonoita they head to the Sea of California and, from the top of a mountain, they see far off the tip of the Gulf of California.

1701, Nov 3 - New incursion into the Colorado, crossing again through “Satan’s Route.”

1701, Nov 21 - Crosses the Colorado on raft en route to California.

1702, Feb 5 - Another expedition to the Colorado—in the company of Father Manuel Gonzalez—is successfully undertaken. Father Kino goes across “Satan’s Route” once more.

1702, Mar 11 - While celebrating Holy Mass, Father Kino watches the sun rising from the end of the sea and realizes that he’s standing on firm land. Father Manuel Gonzalez dies upon his return to Tubutama, Sonora, Mexico.

1703 - Father Kino goes on building churches, such as Busaric and Sáric, and initiates construction of a major church at San Xavier del Bac.

1704, Jan 17 - Consecration of the Cocóspera and Remedios missions.

1704, Apr 2 - Father Kino arrives at San José de Guaymas.

1706, Jan 21 - Description and exploration of Santa Inés, on Tiburon Island.

1706, Mar 2 - Undertakes major constructions such as the Magdalena, Tubutama, Sáric, Pitiquito and Caborca churches.

1706, Oct 22 - Father Kino heads new explorations to Pinicate or Santa Clara.

1711, Mar 15 - Upon celebrating the Inaugural Mass at the Chapel of San Francisco (St. Francis Xavier) in Magdalena de Kino, Father Kino falls seriously ill and passes away near midnight on that date.[2]

1919 - Herbert E. Bolton translates Father Kino’s memoirs of the Pimería Alta.

1928 - Professor Serapio Dávila undertakes investigative work in order to discover Father Kino’s tomb.

1936 - Bolton finishes Father Kino’s biography, entitled “Al borde de la Cristianidad” (The Rim of Christendom).

1963 - The local Lion’s Club forms a team to discover the site of Father Kino’s tomb. Father Charles W. Polzer also lends a hand.

1965, Feb 14 - Father Kino’s statue is unveiled in Washington’s Capitol Rotunda—where the Nation’s Great lie.

1966, May 19 - Finally, his mortal remains are found in the city of Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, by a group of researchers from Mexico and the United States.

1966, May 21 - "It is, therefore, this group of anthropologists’ conclusions that the remains found of Father Eusebio Francisco Kino are authentic."

1971, May 2 - On this date, the monumental square in memory of Father Kino is inaugurated in Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico.

"On the 15th of March, at a little before midnight and in receipt of the Holy Sacraments, Father Eusebio Francisco Quino died with great tranquility and edification in this house and village of Santa María Magdalena. He was seventy years of age and had been the missionary at Nuestra Señora de los Dolores for nearly twenty-four years. It was founded by the same Father, who worked unwearyingly in continuous pilgrimages and conversions in all of this Pimería.
He discovered the Casa Grande, the Gila and Colorado Rivers, and the Indian nations of the Cocomaricopas and the Yumas and the Guicamaspa of the Island.
Resting in the Lord, he is buried in a coffin in this chapel of San Francisco Xavier on the Gospel side where the second and third foundation stones are laid down. He was of the German nation from the province that belongs to Baveria, having been a missionary and cosmographer in the Californias before coming to the Pimería, during the time of Admiral Don Isidro de Otondo."

Agustín de Campos, IHS

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Saguaro National Park, Tumacácori National Historical Park

Last updated: June 19, 2020