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October 26, 2007

Jesuit Missionary Letter from Present-day Copper Canyon

38. [CHÍNIPAS MISSIONS]. HOLUB, Wenceslao. Autograph letter, signed twice, to Father Visitor Pedro Pablo Macida, dated at Satebó, June 11, 1764. 1 p. (with address on verso), folio (30.6 x 21 cm), laid paper, contemporary file note (of recipient?) on recto. Creased where formerly folded, a few minor wormholes touching a few letters, lower left corner (about an inch square; no losses).

            Holub thanks Father Macida for the syrups he has given him and states that he will make good use of them. His fever has subsided, although he is still weak and has tremors in the early morning. The medic in Batopilas came to see him and prescribed some blood lettings and forbade travel to Guazapares since he would have a relapse. The smallpox among the Indians has diminished, but ministry is still needed and he is unable to help them. He requests leave in Mexico City to recuperate. He is short of food and has used the alms provided by Father Juan Cubero, since the two mules he received two years earlier have died and it is impossible to travel in the mountains without them. Without the mules the Indians are very unhappy because he cannot attend them. This text gives unusual insight into the problems of being a Catholic missionary in such a remote area where resources such as food, medicine, and proper transportation were difficult to acquire.

            The Jesuits who generally proselytized in the mountainous areas of Chihuahua arrived early in the seventeenth century. The first church was built by Juan Castini in 1621 and was known as the Mission at Chínipas, which was the name given to the area of southwestern Chihuahua. In a few short years, Chínipas became the most advanced area of the Jesuit missions in Chihuahua. After their expulsion in 1767, the Jesuit’s work was taken over by Franciscans. Primary source material from this area at this time is a rare survival.

            Holub (b. 1734 in Bohemia) entered the Jesuit order in 1753, became a missionary to Chínipas in 1761, but was arrested at Satebó in 1767 in the Jesuit expulsion, whereupon he returned to Bohemia. Recipient Macida (born in 1703 in Sardinia-died 1768) joined the Jesuits in 1721. Assigned to New Spain (1735), he went to missions in Chínipas, where he became superior in 1739. He also served as missionary at Guazapares (1744), missionary at Santa Teresa (1748), and visitor of missions of Chínipas (1744). Following arrest at Guazapares in 1767 in the expulsion of the Jesuits, he was exiled and died in Puerto de Santa María. See: Otakar Odlozilík, “Czech Missionaries in New Spain” in Hispanic Historical American Review, Vol. 25, No. 4 (November 1945), pp. 424-454. ($400-800)

Sold. Hammer: $400.00; Price Realized: $470.00

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