Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roque Gonzales (1576 -1628)

Father Roque González de Santa Cruz was born in  Paraguay to a family of Spanish nobles.He spoke Guarani fluently from an early age. 

At the age of 22 he was ordained a priest. In 1609, he became a Jesuit, beginning his work as a missionary among the indigenous people of the region. He became the first European  to enter the region known today as the Brazilian State of Rio du Sol

His arrival in the area only happened after his developing delicate relationships of trust with local indigenous leaders, some of whom feared that the priests were preparing the way for the arrival of masses of Europeans in their land.

While Spanish conquistadors brutalized the natives of Paraguay and raped their culture Gonzales responded by leading Jesuits to create politically independent Indian villages of several thousand persons.  More than thirty such communal farming communities were formed, some which became the sights of present day cities in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

He and two helpers were killed by natives when they attempted to establish a community in southern Brazil.

No comments: