Father Eusebio Francisco Kino: Desert Missionary, Explorer

Father Eusebio Francisco Kino: Desert Missionary, Explorer

Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Francisco Kino was one of the early Spanish explorers of the deserts of the American Southwest.

In addition to establishing a number of missions in the New World, he proved that Lower California was a peninsula, the Baja Peninsula -- not an island as had previously been believed.

Eusebio Kino was born in Segno, in the Val di Non, a valley in Tirol (now in Italy), on Aug. 10, 1645.

He distinguished himself in the study of mathematics, cartography and astronomy in Germany and taught mathematics for a time at the University of Ingolstadt. He became a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1665. His work as a missionary began in 1678, and he was assigned to Spain's colony in Mexico.

Kino arrived in Mexico City in the spring of 1681. After an abortive mission to Baja California in 1683, he began his longtime mission to the Pima Indians in Pimeria Alta, a district comprising present-day southern Arizona and the northern portion of Sonora State in Mexico.

In 1687, Father Kino established his first mission among the rural Indians of Sonora at Nuestra Senora de los Dolores. It became the headquarters for his explorations, as well as for the founding of other missions, including San Xavier del Bac (1700) near Tucson, Guevavi and Tumacacori (now a U.S. National Monument).

In 1691, Father Kino made the first of about 40 expeditions into Arizona. In 1694, he was the first European to visit the Hohokam ruins of Casa Grande (now a national monument). He is also said to have explored the sources of the Rio Grande, the Colorado and Gila rivers.

His explorations of the area around the mouth of the Colorado River in 1701 convinced him that Baja California was a peninsula, not an island. His 1705 map was the standard reference for the southwestern desert region for more than a century.

Father Kino helped the Pima Indians diversify their agriculture and aided them in their constant wars with the Apaches, while opposing Indian enslavement in the silver mines of northern Mexico.

His "Favores Celestiales" (1708) was translated into English as the two-volume Kino's Historical Memoir of Pimería Alta in 1919 (reissued 1948).

Father Eusebio Kino died at Mission Magdalena in Sonora on March 15, 1711.

Father Kino Timeline

From National Park Service

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

Nov. 20, 1665: 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.

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

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

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

Oct. 28, 1682: 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.

April 4, 1683: Arrives at Bahía de la Paz (Baja California) and names it "La Santisma Trinidad." However, on July 15, 1683, the expedition abandons La Paz.

Oct. 6, 1683: 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.

Aug. 15, 1684: Father Copart takes Kino's final vows as a Jesuit.

April 8, 1685: San Bruno's mission is abandoned.

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

March 13, 1687: 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.

Jan. 19, 1689: 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.

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

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

Aug. 1692: 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.

Dec. 11, 1692: 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.

April 23, 1693: 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.

Feb. 1694: 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.

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

November 1694: Explores the Gila River up the Casa Grande ruins.

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

Nov. 16, 1695: 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.

Feb. 25, 1698: 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.

Sept. 22, 1698: 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.

Feb. 7, 1699: 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.

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

March 20, 1700: In Dolores he receives 20 blue shells, as a gift.

April 1700: Second Lt. Juan Bautista Escalante brings in Tepoaca Indians to the village of Santa María de Magdalena.

April 28, 1700: The building of a larger church in San Xavier is initiated.

May 1, 1700: 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.

Septembet 1700: Expedition to the north and discovery of the Colorado River, across the desert, through "Satan's Route," (Camino del Diablo).

March 1, 1701: 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.

Nov. 3, 1701: New incursion into the Colorado, crossing again through "Satan's Route."

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

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

March 11, 1702: 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.

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

April 2, 1704: Father Kino arrives at San José de Guaymas.

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

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

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

March 15, 1711: 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.

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.

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

May 19, 1966: 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.

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

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