Casañas de Jesús María, Francisco (ca. 1656–1696)

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 28, 2020

Fray Francisco Casañas de Jesús María was born of noble parents about 1656 in Barcelona, Spain. He joined the Franciscans and in 1682 was selected as one of the first members of the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro. He did mission work in Mexico City, Veracruz, San Juan de Ulloa, Campeche, and Mérida. After returning to Querétaro for a short time, he resumed his missionary activities in 1689, this time among the Indians of the Nuevo León frontier. His work met with so little success that he returned to Querétaro and accompanied Alonso De León on his fifth expedition to Texas, in 1690. Casañas aided in the establishment of the first missions in East Texas and was left at San Francisco de los Tejas Mission by Fray Damián Massanet. In the fall of 1691 Casañas founded Santísimo Nombre de María Mission. Early in 1692 he returned to Mexico with Domingo Terán de los Ríos in hope of securing additional aid for the Texas mission field. He went first to his college then to Mexico City to plead his cause but was informed that conditions in Texas did not warrant the undertaking of additional work, and the matter was apparently dropped. With the discontinuation of his Texas work in 1693, Fray Casañas began mission work among the Xemes Indians of New Mexico. He was killed in 1696 by Apaches.

Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Mattie Austin Hatcher, "Description of the Tejas or Asinai Indians," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 30 (January 1937). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Exploration
  • Explorers (Spanish)
  • Religion
  • Catholic
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Casañas de Jesús María, Francisco,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 28, 2020

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