“Martyrdom of the Blessed Father”
by Fray Francisco de Porras, at Moqui
When the Spaniards colonized Nuevo Mexico they brought Christianity to the Native Americans. In 1629 Fray Francisco de Porras went to Hopi, then called Moqui, to convert the Hopis. Here is an account of a miracle that inspired some Hopis to convert to the Catholic faith. Later, the Hopis revolted.
~ ~ ~ ~ “Fray Marcos de Niza,” J. Cisneros (Artist)
From the time this blessed father [Fray Francisco de Porras] took holy orders in San Francisco de México, he had been a religious of exemplary life. For this reason, the order retained him as master of novices for so many years that they considered him as permanently assigned to this office. Moreover, at the time when he could have expected the reward of so much hardship, he wished to devote himself to greater labors, such as this conversion of Moqui [Hopi], where in less than nine months he mastered their language, which is very barbarous and difficult, and reduced it to a system. He converted and baptized more than four thousand souls and instructed the Indians with great perfection.
After he had converted nearly all the people by his preaching, always bearing one of the original crosses of Mother Luisa de Carrión, he inspired them to such devotion to the holy cross that the idolatrous priests in their anger incited many people to rebellion.
They went to him, bringing a boy of twelve or thirteen who had been blind from birth; with great wrath their leader said to him: “You go about deceiving us and disturbing the people with what you call a cross. If what you say about it is true, place it on the eyes of this boy; if he regains his sight, we shall believe everything you tell us; but if not, we will kill you or cast you out in shame.”
The blessed father, with the spirit that the occasion demanded, went down on his knees with this very cross in his hands, raised his eyes to heaven, and beseeched the divine majesty to work a miracle, not only for the confusion of all these infidels but also for His own greater glory and that of His holy cross. Arising with great faith and courage, he placed it on the eyes of the blind boy, who instantly opened them and saw perfectly and began to shout, professing that he was now able to see. “Sixteenth-century Franciscan Monk of New Mexico,” Unidentified (Artist)
The Indians were so stunned and convinced that they venerated the father as a saint and promised to believe what he taught them. They took the boy in their arms and carried him through the streets and plazas, proclaiming that all should become Christians and do as the father taught them, for it was the truth and their own priests were deceiving impostors.
Because of his great humility, the blessed father ordered them by their vow of obedience not to write about it to us who were eighty leagues away; but God who had worked the miracle in order that it should be made known ordained that the Indians themselves should go out among the neighboring nations and openly proclaim it. The Spaniards “Not being able to kill the father openly, as they had often tried, they killed him secretly with poison.” who were there at the time wrote to their governor about it and later related it to me personally.
With this great miracle, that conversion rose like foam. But the envy of the priests of the idols was so rabid that they again incited the people to revolt. Not being able to kill the father openly, as they had often tried, they killed him secretly with poison, to the great sorrow of all the Christians and the friars but to his own great joy, because he had attained the goal which he sought, namely, to give his life in the preaching of our holy Catholic faith.