Father Roque González de Santa Cruz S.J.
was born in Asunción
on 17 November 1576. He was the son of Don Bartolomé González de Villaverde and Doña María de Santa Cruz who were Spanish nobles. Roque González spoke Guaraní
fluently from an early age.
At the age of 22 he was ordained priest
by the bishop of Córdoba. In 1609, he became a member of the Society of Jesus
, beginning his work as a missionary. He became the first European
person to enter the region known today as the Brazilian state
of Rio Grande do Sul
His arrival in the area only happened after his developing delicate relationships of trust with local indigenous leaders, some of whom feared that the priests were preparing the way for the arrival of masses of European
in their land.
In 1613 he founded the reduction
of San Ignacio Miní. In 1615 he founded Itapúa, which is now the city of Posadas
in the Argentine
province of Missiones. Then he had to move the reduction to the other side of the river, now the site of the city of Encarnación
. He also founded the reduction of Concepción de la Sierra Candelaria (1619), Candelaria (1627), San Javier, Yapeyú (now in the province of Corrientes
San Nicolás, Asunción del Iyuí and Caaró (now in Brazil
). In the region of Iyuí, he had difficulties with the 'caquique' Ñezú.
After establishing the first mission reduction
of Saint Nicolas () and other missionary centers in the region, Roque González was struck down by Chief Nheçu
on 15 November 1628.... Read More