Sunday, November 12th, 2023 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Wisdom 6:12-16, Psalm 63 “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God ”, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13
The Martyrs of la Florida
Fr. Cáncer’s expedition sighted the Florida coast at approximately 27º latitude, somewhere near present-day Bradenton. Initial contacts with native peoples were apparently amiable and peaceful. On one occasion Fr. Cáncer knelt in prayer with his fellow missionaries and with Magdalena, and they were joined by many Indians. Fr. Tolosa and Fuentes were apprehended and killed shortly after they opted, against Fr. Cáncer’s judgment, to separate themselves from the rest of the missionary party and travel on foot to their destined port. Their deaths were later confirmed by a Spaniard named Muñoz, who had come to Florida with the Soto expedition and who now sought refuge with the Dominicans. Some time later Fr. Cáncer went ashore and was clubbed to death after having fallen to his knees in prayer. The location of these killings was most likely present-day Safety Harbor, Florida.
These Dominican missionaries have enjoyed a continuous fama (reputation for martyrdom) from an early date. A remarkable relic is the diary that Fr. Cáncer kept in his own hand, which was completed by Fr. Beteta, an eyewitness to his death.
4) Fr. Pedro Martínez, S.J. (between September 28 and October 6, 1566) Fr. Pedro Martínez, a native of Teruel in Aragón, was appointed Superior of the first band of Jesuits bound for Florida, who departed Spain in June of 1566. With him were two fellow Jesuits, Fr. Juan Rogel and Br. Francisco Villareal. When their ship was near the coast of Florida, Fr. Martínez volunteered to take a small party ashore in a smaller boat in order to seek directions and supplies. On September 14, 1566 they made landfall, perhaps on Cumberland Island. As they traveled through native villages they were well received until they entered a region under the control of Saturiba, who was partial to the Huguenots. Near present-day Mount Cornelia, on the eastern outskirts of Jacksonville, Fr. Martínez’s companions went ashore in search of fish, leaving him and the remaining crew in their boat, which was soon surrounded. Not availing himself of an opportunity to escape, Fr. Martínez was eventually pulled from the boat, dragged ashore, and beaten to death. He has long been regarded as the proto-Jesuit martyr of the Americas. 5) Father Luis Francisco de Quirós, S.J. (February 4, 1571)
6) Brother Gabriel de Solís, S.J. (February 4, 1571)
7) Brother Juan Bautista Méndez, S.J. (February 4 or 5, 1571)
8) Father Juan Bautista de Segura, S.J. (February 9 or 10, 1571)
9) Brother Pedro de Linares, S.J. (February 9 or 10, 1571)
10) Brother Sancho Cevallos, S.J. (February 9 or 10, 1571)
11) Brother Gabriel Gómez, S.J. (February 9 or 10, 1571)
12) Brother Cristóbal Redondo, S.J. (February 9 or 10, 1571)
These eight Jesuit missionaries were killed in February 1571 in present-day Virginia, which at the time was claimed by the Spanish and was part of La Florida. In the summer of 1570, frustrated with the slow progress of evangelization in the Spanish forts ringing the peninsula of Florida, Fr. Juan Bautista de Segura, a native of Toledo, opted to undertake a mission far to the north to a region known as Ajacán. Apart from the long- standing Spanish interest in this region, Fr. Segura was attracted to this location by an Indian named Paquiquineo, a native of Ajacán, who had received baptism while in Mexico City, having taken the name Luis, and was now offering to assist the Spanish in the conversion of his tribe. We will continue next week. Source: Martyrs - Martyrs of La Florida Missions - Tallahassee, FL