Franciscan Saints




 11th August


Web administrator's note, while I have found no reports concerning John Bernal I have a record of the death of Fr John Baptist Pio, numbered among the 21- see below main entry



The Servant of God John Bernal and Companions


Martyrs, First Order


Although Franciscan missionaries from Mexico had labored and died in the Spanish province of New Mexico (which included northern Arizona) since the year 1539, it was not until the peaceful conquest and occupation of this territory by Onate in 1598 that they came in large groups and began to see their efforts crowned with success. By 1630 there were 25 churches and mission centers for 90 Indian pueblos, and some 60,000 Christian Indians were under the spiritual care of 50 priests.

But the pagan medicine men and sorcerers, who saw themselves deprived more and more of the control which they had exercised over the people, were fostering a spirit of revolt which became manifest at times and fifty years later developed into fanatic hatred of the Spaniards and of the Catholic Faith. The result was the Great Pueblo Revolt of 1680, during which 21 Franciscan missionaries and 380 other Spaniards were slain and the others were temporarily driven out of New Mexico.

The leader of the revolution was an Indian sorcerer by the name of Po-pe, who declared that he was directed by three infernal spirits. At his instigation, the medicine men or sorcerers and the chiefs of the northern pueblos held many revolutionary meetings and drew up plans for a general revolt. According to these plans, an uprising was to take place in all the pueblos, except those of the Piros, on the same day. As many as possible of the missionaries and also of the other Spaniards were to be massacred, the churches to be burned, their sacred contents to be profaned and destroyed; and the natives were to return to their ancient pagan religion and customs. Those pueblos which refused to join the plot were to be forced to take part by the threat of extinction.

These plans were carried out on August I0 and 11, 1680, in all the pueblos as far south as Isleta (which did not take part in the revolt) and as far west as the Moqui pueblos m Arizona.

Dr. Hackett, who examined the original reports, wrote: “The churches, where not burned, had been stripped of their sacred vessels, robbed of their ornaments, and in every way as completely and foully desecrated as Indian sacrilege and indecency could suggest, while the sacred vestments had been made use of by the Indians as trophies in the dance and festivities celebrating their success.”

The 21 missionaries, therefore, who were killed by the insurgents, may rightly be called martyrs of the Faith. Besides Father john Bernal, the custos or superior of all the missions, eighteen other priests and two lay brothers won the martyr’s crown in or near the pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona on August 10 and 11.

Their names at least deserve to be mentioned.

Besides Father Bernal, they were :Fathers Joseph de Espeleta; Joseph de Figueroa; John of Jesus; Francis Anthony de Lorenzana; Luke Maldonado; Joseph de Montesdoca; Anthony de Mora; Louis de Morales; John Baptist Pio ; Matthias Bendon; Augustine of St. Mary; John de Talaban; Emmanuel Tinoco; Thomas de Torres ;Joseph de Trujillo; John Del Val; Ferdinand de Velasco; Dominic de Vera  and Brothers Anthony Sanchez de Pro and John de la Pedrosa. (Cf. Heroes of the Cross, pp. 35-44; The Martyrs of the United States of America, pp. Habig p 571)


"The Revolt of the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico in 1680

Part III, THE OUTBREAK IN THE PUEBLOS, by  Charles Wilson Hackett

The real character of their determination, however, is shown by their attack the next morning on Father Juan Pio and a soldier named Pedro Hidalgo. According to the statement of the latter, before daybreak on the morning of August 10, he started out from Santa Fé to Tesuque, accompanying Father Pio, who was going there to say mass.  On reaching that pueblo they found it entirely deserted. But, proceeding, they overtook the inhabitants of Tesuque and Cuyamunque, about a quarter of a league from the former pueblo, where they found many of the Indians painted in war colors, and armed with bows, arrows, lances, and shields. Father Pio, when he had drawn near to them, boldly asked, “What does this mean, my children, are you crazy? Do not disquiet yourselves, for I will aid you and will die a thousand deaths for you.” And passing quickly on to summon back to the pueblo the main body of the people, who were going toward the mountain, in order that he might say mass for them, he entered a ravine, while Hidalgo was stationed on a knoll to intercept any who might pass that way. While waiting there Hidalgo saw an Indian named El Obi come out of the ravine with a shield which the priest had carried, and also a little later he saw the interpreter of the pueblo, named Nicolás, painted with clay, and bespattered with blood, come out from the same place. These and others approached him, caught his horse by the bridle reins, and took away his sword and hat. Fearing injury at their hands, he seized his arquebus, put spurs to his horse, and was able to escape to the plain below, even dragging for some distance those who held on to him, while those from above shot many arrows at him, without effect. The priest did not come out, and Hidalgo judged, from what he had seen and experienced, that he must have been killed, and so hastened back to the villa, reaching there about seven o'clock in the morning.

Hackett, Charles, Wilson, October, 1911, "The Revolt of the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico in 1680." Part III, THE OUTBREAK IN THE PUEBLOS, Austin University Press, pp2,3





Prayer of the Church

(On the feast of the Holy Family)


Almighty and eternal God, who in the confession of the true

Faith has given Thy servants to acknowledge the glory of the

eternal Trinity, and in the power of Thy majesty to adore the

Unity: grant, we beseech The, that by steadfastness in this same

Faith we may evermore be defended from all adversity.

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



Hagiography and prayer from Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois


August     Next


Last edited 13/09/2017 15:34 
(C) EFO 2013
Web administrator Wayne Benge