Juan Maria de Salvatierra (sal-vah-te-er'-rah), Italian missionary, born in Milan, 15 November, 1648; died in Guadalajara, Mexico, 18 July, 1717. He studied in the Jesuit college of Parma, entered that order in Genoa, and went to Mexico, where he studied theology, and was :for several years professor of rhetoric in the College of Puebla.
Later he obtained permission to convert the Tarahumaro Indians of the northwest, among whom he lived for ten years, founding several missions.He was subsequently appointed visitor of the missions in Sinaloa and Sonora, and there formed a project for the spiritual conquest of California, as all the military expeditions to that country had been without result.
After obtaining permission from his superiors, he sailed on 10 October, 1697, for Lower California, where, on 19 October, he laid the .foundation of the mission of Loreto.He soon learned the language of the natives, whom he propitiated by his kindness, and in seven years established six other missions along the coast. In 1704 he was appointed provincial of his order, and resided in Mexico, but when his term was concluded in 1707 he returned to his missions in California.
In 1717 he was called to the capital by the viceroy, the Marquis de Valero, to give material for the "History of California," which King Philip V. had ordered to be written.Although suffering from illness, Salva-tierra obeyed, and, crossing the Gulf of California, continued his voyage along the coast, carried on the shoulders of the Indians, till he died in Guada-lajara. He wrote " Cartas sobre la Conquista espi-ritual de Californias" (Mexico, 1698), and "Nuevas cartas sobre Californias" (1699), which have been used by Father Miguel Venegas in his " Historia de Californias." Salvatierra is still known as the apostle of California.