Monday, August 9, 2010

A Final Raid To Annihilate The Missions

There were now but six missions standing, the rest having been utterly destroyed with fire and sword, and nothing left except a few fugitives in the woods. Father Silveyra, who had 7,000 Indians at San Xavier before the last "maloca," saved 500 of his flock ; Father Juan Suarez de Toledo 400 from the survivors of San Jose, and with these two groups a new mission was established near Loretto. At that moment the Cacique Tayoba brought information to the Jesuits that the Pomberos or "pigeon trappers" (here) were preparing a final raid to annihilate the missions, and almost simultaneously Father Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (personally baptized 100,000 Indians) received letters from the superior, Father Francisco Vázquez Trujillo, ordering him in all haste to prepare a flotilla of boats, and remove what remained of the missions to some place of safety, at a distance from the Mamelucos.
It was not without a deep feeling of regret that Father Ruiz de Montoya saw himself compelled to abandon the missions, some of which were in a very prosperous condition. Loretto, now in its -twenty-first year, possessed a stately church, fine schools, valuable herds of cattle, and such extensive cotton-fields that it supplied this product to all the other missions. San Ignacio was hardly inferior in its buildings and agriculture. No sooner was the superior's order known, than Father Montoya set his carpenters and other artisans to work for the accomplishment of the great task before him. He first constructed 700 " balsas," or rafts, each being made of two canoes tied together, with a platform across. The next thing was to get together as large as possible a supply of provisions, besides which the Jesuits saved the sacred vessels of the churches. When all the survivors of the missions were embarked they were found to number 12,000 souls, each raft carrying about twenty persons, except those laden with effects. So convinced were the Jesuits that they should never again return to Loretto and San Ignacio, that they exhumed the bones of Father Martín Javier Urtazu and two other priests, which they took with them in their flight.
Link (here) to read the full account. 
Link (here) to the engraving San Ignacio Mini

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