MARGIL DE JESUS, ANTONIO
MARGIL DE JESÚS, ANTONIO (1657–1726). Antonio Margil de Jesús, early missionary to Texas, was born in Valencia, Spain, on August 18, 1657. His parents, Juan Margil and Esperanza Ros, were poor parishioners of the church of San Juan del Mercado. The parents also had two daughters. Margil attended school, where he demonstrated a peaceful and gentle demeanor and distinguished himself by his abject humility. Even as a boy he referred to himself as "Nothingness Itself," a title consistently used by him in adulthood. In his early teens Margil expressed his desire to become a Franciscan. On April 22, 1673, he received the order's habit at La Corona de Cristo in Valencia. Further education included the study of philosophy and theology. At the age of twenty-five he received Holy Orders and soon accepted the challenge of missionary work in New Spain. He departed Spain on March 4, 1683, and arrived at Veracruz on June 6.
In New Spain Margil was assigned to the missionary College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, from where he spent several years as a missionary in Yucatán, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Margil returned to Querétaro in late 1706, then traveled in early 1707 to Zacatecas to found and preside over the missionary College of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Zacatecas. He was to have accompanied the Domingo Ramón expedition of 1716, charged with setting up Franciscan missions in East Texas. However, illness at San Juan Bautista prevented his arrival in East Texas until after the founding of the first four missions. He did not arrive there until July 1716. In 1717 Margil supervised the founding of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores and San Miguel de los Adaes, which with the previously established Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe completed the missions under the control of the Zacatecan Franciscans. During the "Chicken War" of 1719, the six missions and a presidio in East Texas were all abandoned, and the entire Spanish population withdrew to San Antonio. In February of the following year Margil founded at San Antonio the most successful of all Texas missions, San José y San Miguel de Aguayo.
In 1722 he was recalled to Mexico to serve again as guardián of the college he had founded. At the conclusion of his three-year term (1722–25), Margil resumed missionary work in Mexico. He died in Mexico City at the church of San Francisco on August 6, 1726. Arguably the most famous missionary to serve in Texas, Antonio Margil de Jesús remains under consideration for sainthood by the Vatican. His career in Texas was brief but served as an inspiration to his Zacatecan brethren, who assumed control of all Texas missions in 1773.
Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–1958; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Donald E. Chipman, Spanish Texas, 1519–1821 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992). Eduardo Enrique Ríos, Life of Fray Antonio Margil, O.F.M., trans. and rev. Benedict Leutenegger (Washington: Academy of American Franciscan History, 1959). Robert S. Weddle, San Juan Bautista: Gateway to Spanish Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968).
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Donald E. Chipman, "Margil De Jesus, Antonio," accessed May 25, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fma45.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 29, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Get Texas history every day,
with day by day
Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles