Texas Day by Day

On this day in Texas history…

Famous Texas missionary dies in Mexico City

August 6th, 1726

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On this day in 1726, Antonio Margil de Jesús, early missionary to Texas, died in Mexico City. Margil was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1657. Even as a boy he referred to himself as "Nothingness Itself," a title he consistently used in adulthood. He become a Franciscan in 1673. At the age of twenty-five he received Holy Orders and soon accepted the challenge of missionary work in New Spain. He arrived at Veracruz in 1683. In New Spain Margil was assigned to the missionary College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, and spent several years as a missionary in Yucatán, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Margil also 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 prevented his arrival in East Texas until after the founding of the first four missions. In 1717 Margil supervised the founding of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de los Ais and San Miguel de Linares de los Adaes, which with the previously established Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe completed the missions under the control of the Zacatecan Franciscans. In February 1720 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, Margil resumed missionary work in Mexico until his death. Arguably the most famous missionary to serve in Texas, Antonio Margil de Jesús remains under consideration for sainthood by the Vatican.

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