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The Mission


The movie "The Mission" is not the only great example of missionary work in South America.  The Blessed Roque Gonzalez (1576-1628) was born of noble Spanish parents in Paraguay.  He began his priestly career working among the Indians working to improve their condition.  With other Jesuits, he opposed Spanish imperialism, the imported Spanish Inquisition, and enslaving the Indians---for all of which he was bitterly opposed by the Spanish authorities.  He worked among and for the Indians for two decades.  A local medicine man who opposed his work, instigated an attack during which Gonzalez was killed.


St. Toribo Alfonso de Mogrobejo (1538-1606) was archbishop of Lima, Peru and in constant conflict with secular authorities over the treatment of the Indians whose rights he defended.  He fought for the poor, founded numerous churches, schools, and hospitals, and in 1591 he founded the first seminary in the New World.  He learned to speak Indian dialects and was known for his charities and despite great physical privations managed to visit every part of his dioceses, teaching and preaching with great effect.


St. Francis Solano (1549-1610) was sent as a missionary to Peru in 1589 and for the rest of his life he worked for the welfare of the Indians and the Spanish colonists in South America.  He learned the dialects and customs of Indian tribes and had phenomenal success in his preaching and in making converts.



Although not all missionaries have done exemplary work like the three Saints noted above, millions have been brought to an awareness of Christ's message due to the work of missionaries.  The missionaries in Japan, for example, converted a Japanese man who joined the Jesuits and was ordained and became the Blessed Antony Ixida (1569-1632).  He was famed for his learning and eloquent preaching.  He was imprisoned for two years for his faith.  Along with other priests, he was scalded for thirty-three days with boiling water to force them to apostatize, and when they persisted in their faith they were burned to death.



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