Franciscan Saints




17th July



The Servant of God Francis Garces and Companions


Martyrs, First Order

Government interference in the missions and land grabbing sparked the Indian uprising which cost these friars their lives.

Francisco Garcés  was a contemporary of the American Revolution and of Blessed Junipero Serra, he was born in 1738 in Spain, where he joined the Franciscans. After ordination in 1763, he was sent to Mexico. Five years later he was assigned to San Xavier del Bac near Tucson, one of several missions the Jesuits had founded in Arizona and New Mexico before being expelled in 1767 from all territories controlled by the Catholic king of Spain. In Arizona, Francisco worked among the Papago, Yuma, Pima and Apache Native Americans. His missionary travels took him to the Grand Canyon and to California.

Friar Francisco Palou, another contemporary, writes that Father Garcés was greatly loved by the indigenous peoples, among whom he lived unharmed for a long time. They frequently gave him food and referred to him as "Viva Jesus," which was the greeting he taught them to use.

In 1779 two new missions were established among the Yuma Indians   and For their converts’ sakes, the Spanish missionaries wanted to organize their communities away from the Spanish soldiers and colonists. But the commandant in Mexico insisted that the two new missions on the Colorado River, Misión San Pedro y San Pablo and Misión La Purísima Concepción, be mixed settlements.

In July 1781 the Yuma Indians rebelled against the Spanish whom they massacred and left Friars Juan Diaz and Matias Moreno dead at Misión San Pedro y San Pablo. Friars Francisco Garcés and Juan Barreneche were killed at Misión La Purísima Concepción (the site of Fort Yuma). 1

Five months later a Spanish expedition found the unburied bodies of Fathers Diaz and Moreno where they had been killed, their bodies were still incorrupt. Elsewhere the graves of Father Garces and Barraeche, buried by an Indian woman, were found in a plot of green grass and beautiful flowers whilst the ground round about was barren and bare; their bodies were also incorrupt. The remains of all four misisonaries were taken to Tubutama in Mexico, and in 1794 to the Apostolic College of Queretaro. 2



In the 18th century the indigenous peoples of the American Southwest saw Catholicism and Spanish rule as a package deal. When they wanted to throw off the latter, the new religion had to go also. Do we appreciate sufficiently the acceptable adjustment our faith can make among various peoples? Are we offended by the customs of Catholics in other cultures? Do we see our good example as a contribution to missionary evangelization?


On a visit to Africa in 1969, Pope Paul VI told 22 young Ugandan converts that "being a Christian is a fine thing but not always an easy one." 3






Prayer of the Church


O God, who dost permit us to celebrate the birthday of Thy

martyrs, grant us the grace to be admitted into their company in

eternal bliss. Through  Christ Our Lord Who liveth  and reigneth
Thee and the Holy Spirit,  One God, now and forever.  Amen


   1.    Foley , Leonard, O.F.M, Saint of the Day Lives, Lessons and Feast ; 6th ed. revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.

2.Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois

3. Ibid 1


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Last edited 13/09/2017 14:11 
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