Mariano Bordoy


Ginny Sphar

Father Mariano was born on the island of Mallorca on November 30, 1764, in the village of Felantix. He was not yet 16 when he left home and went to Palma. He was of medium build, light complexioned, with brown eyes and black hair.

In the historic convento grande de la San Francisco, he was invested with the habit on September 4, 1780. After the novitiate, his vows, and three years of philosophy, three years of scholastic theology and ordination, Father Bordoy answered the call to the College of Querétaro.[1]

He reached Tumacácori along with Father Ramón López in mid-February 1796. Bordoy had come from Caborca. The two friars presented Gutiérrez with an order summoning him to Tubutama.[2] In May 1796, he finally went.

When Bordoy and López had been at Tumacácori not quite seven months, the two friars received instructions to take a census of the mission. These instructions came through channels—Court of Charles IV; to Commandant General Nava; to the bishop-designate of Sonora, Father Francisco Rouset de Jesús; to Father President Iturralde. The 1793 general report for the missions was being updated. Bordoy added a note that not since he and López had been at Tumacácori had a single heathen asked to join the community. “As for the church structure,” Bordoy said, “it is now split in two and there is therefore some need that a new one be built.”

“The resources this mission has at present for that purpose are next to nil. It hardly even has fields to plant, not because these are lacking, for there are fields, but because the water to irrigate them is lacking. Thus, this year, ¾ of the wheat planted was lost for lack of water. Livestock is of little value because it has increased in these parts.”[3]

In mid-February 1797, when a fellow missionary, Bartolomé Socies stopped over at Tumacácori, he found Bordoy and López at odds. Bordoy enjoyed reasonable health and could eat almost anything. In Socies opinion, he showed all the signs of becoming a good missionary. López, however, reared at the Court of Madrid, had a delicate stomach. He hated mission food, so he hardly at and that made him weak and ill-tempered and more susceptible to sickness. Socies counseled them to put aside their “trifles.” Bordoy hired a new cook but after one week López fired her. López wanted to know why Socies didn’t stay at Tumacácori and let him go to San Xavier. Socies said that was not what their superiors ordered and he didn’t want to hear any more about it.[4]

López left Tumacácori on May 29, 1797. Father Ángel Alonso de Prado took his place. After only one week at Tumacácori, Prado wrote to the Father Guardian of the College saying he was not for the missions and wanted a pass back to the College. [5]

He went on to describe the dire state of the mission and to explain some of his dilemmas. Because of the drought, the mission was reduced to buying food. He and Bordoy would use their spare habits and tunics to bury dead Indians. He added, ironically, that he was fixed for tobacco for two years if they did not take pity and recall him sooner.

Father President Iturralde made Father Ángel responsible for Tubac. He had written to Bishop Rouset asking that the faculties of interim Chaplain previously conferred on Ramón López be granted to Prado.[6]

When Father President conducted his official visitation at Tumacácori on September 30, 1797, Ángel Prado was still there.

Evidently Bordoy and Prado had seen to patching up the small Jesuit church. No longer was it split in two.

The three missionaries discussed the current economic crisis. Ironically Iturralde suggested that the mission had been better off in the days of the widespread Apache attacks. The mines, prime consumers of mission produce, had played out. Miners were now raising crops in competition with the missions. Livestock was glutting the market. Both San Xavier and Cocóspera (whose churches were nearly completed) owed money to Tumacácori. The biggest debt was owed by San Ignacio to hacendado José de los Heros. “If this land were as it was before, it would not take long to pay it off, or better said, it would already have been paid off.”[7]

By January 1798, Gutiérrez was back at Tumacácori and Prado had departed or was preparing to leave Tumacácori for the College. Back at the College, Prado would be elected Father Guardian three times before his death on December 28, 1824.[8]

Bordoy left Tumacácori late summer of 1799. Evidently he was not as tough as he thought he was. In January, Father President Iturralde had seconded Bordoy’s request for retirement to the College, but he did not retire. He decided to remain in Sonora. Between 1802 and 1805 he served as compañero at Aconchi. By 1806 he was back in Pimería Alta assisting at Tubutama. When he did return to the College, his health as broken. Until his death on October 6, 1819, at age 54, he did what he could around the College, playing the organ and hearing confessions.[9]

[1]Certification of sailing, December 17, 1789, et al., AGI, Mex., 2735. Madoz, Diccionario, Vol. 8, pp. 28-29. Father Joseph Cardoso, Lista de los religiosos, CSCQ, February 7, 1824, ACQ. Geiger, Junípero Serra, Vol. 1, pp. 23-29. Evidently Father Mariano had relatives in the order. One Francisco Bordoy was serving in 1814 as official chronicler of the Franciscan province of Mallorca. Ibid., p. 18. A Joseph Bordoy of Palma, age 23, sailed for the College of San Fernando in 1810. Certification of sailing, Joaquín de Abaurrea, Cádiz, May 26, 1810, AGI, Mex., 2736.

[2]Iturralde to Rivera, Tubutama, April 5, 1796, CC, 203.34. Iturralde to Bringas, Tubutama, February 4, 1796, CC, 203.41-42.

[3]Whiting, “Tumacácori Census.” Burials place the census in September or October. DCB. See also Dobyns, “The Population of the Presidio of Tucson,” JAH, Vol. 13 (1972), pp. 205-09. In compiling the required data, Bishop Rouset made a few modifications in the Revillagigedo format. For one thing, he counted deserted Guevavi, Calabazas, and Sonoita as a mission (no. 34) separate from Tumacácori (no. 35). “The three pueblos abandoned because of the Apaches,” he said, “are situated in the San Luis Valley, the most fertile region known in the provinces of Sonora, according to the word I have, abundantly watered and so suited to raising stock that in times not long passed a cow was valued at less than three pesos.” He mentioned that he had given the friars of Tumacácori the faculties to administer the presidio of Tubac. They did not collect the customary 100 peso stipend, rather it went for the needs of the presidial chapel. Rouset, Missiones de la Provincia de Sonora, Hacienda de San Nicolás Tolentino de Pánuco, July 24, 1797, AGI, Guad., 578.

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

[5]Prado to Ramis, Tumacácori, May 30, 1797, CC, misc. Salazar to Gil de Bernabé, Tubutama, May 31, 1797, AMS.

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

[7]Iturralde, Visita.

[8]Just when Prado left is not clear. He last signed the Tumacácori books on October 21, 1797, when he struck the notice of an unauthorized January 15, visita by Licenciado Manuel María Moreno. DCB. In his letter of October 2, 1798, Iturralde lamented Prado’s return to the College but he did not say when or if he had departed. The President did not notify the Bishop of Prado’s exit until the following January, when he requested the faculties of chaplain at Tubac for Gutiérrez. Iturralde to Rouset, Tubutama, January 28, 1799, AMS. Prado served as Guardian at the College, 1809-1812, 1815-1818, 1824.

[9]Bordoy dated his last entry in the Tumacácori books, a baptism, June 26, 1799. He confessed a woman whom Gutiérrez buried on September 23, but when, Gutiérrez did not say. DCB. Libros de Aconchi, Parish archive, Banámichi, Sonora. Libros de Tubutama, Parish archive, Altar, Sonora. CSCQ, Libro de difuntos.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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