March 19, 2014

Today in Texas History:

Today is March 19, 2014. It is the 78th day of the year.

On this date in March 19 Isidro Félix de Espinosa began his career as a Franciscan. Isidro Félix de Espinosa was born in Querétaro, Mexico, on November 26, 1679. His parents were Isidro de Espinosa and Gertrudis de Miraelrio Tovar. Espinoza had nine brother, of which only six of them lived to adulthood. On March 18, 1696, Isidro Félix de Espinosa joined the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, and March 19, 1697, he began his career as a Franciscan. On December 17, 1703 Espinoza received holy orders and 26 February of that same year he became a priest. Espinosa is thought likely that he was assigned to Mission San Juan Bautista at the end of 1703 or shortly thereafter.

On April 5, 1709, Espinosa, accompanied by Father Antonio de Olivares, Captain Pedro de Aguirre, and fourteen soldiers, left San Juan Bautista for address to the future San Antonio. Here, the Franciscans were impressed by the availability of water and the prospects of Spanish settlement. Expedition Espinosa, Aguirre Olivares and moved past the San Antonio River to the Colorado River of Texas, where they hoped to contact Hasinais who whispered that they had moved there. On this trip Espinosa also encountered Yojuanes and their allies the Simonis and the Tusonibi who tried to convince Espinos and his associates to come to their villages along the Rio Brazos but failed in this endeavor. Espinosa did not go to the villages of the Yojuane.

Espinosa and associates also failed to contact any natives on the Colorado River. The expedition returned to St. John the Baptist on April 28, 1709. Espinosa soon returned to Querétaro and he remained there until he was named President of new missions were established in the University Mission Texas. In 1716 he accompanied the expedition of Domingo Ramón, where he established three missions Querétaro in East Texas: Our Father San Francisco de los Teja, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, and San Jose de los Nazonis.

Espinosa missionary activities in Texas included participation in two other expeditions, Martín de Alarcón (1718) and Marques of San Miguel de Aguayo (1721). In late 1721, Espinosa was renamed as the guardian of Texas Missionary University and he never returned to the province. In 1733 he was named President of the future Hospice of San Fernando in Mexico city. In the last years of his life he returned to the University of Santa Cruz in Querétaro, where he died on February 14, 1755.

His contributions as a chronicler of the early history of Texas are without peer. He was called “El Julio Cesar de la Fé en Nueva España (The Julio Cesar of Faith in New Spain)” because he worked during the day and wrote by night. Espinosa left a remarkable collection of literature. This includes a biography of his friend, Antonio Margil of Jesus and the Chronicle of the Colleges of Propaganda Fide of New Spain, called “the most important contemporary achievement Franciscans in Texas”, the work was reprinted in 1964.

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