By RAUL RAMIREZ
Special to The New Vision
Padre Kino arrived in Mexico City on June 1, 1681, and while awaiting his first assignment he wrote about a comet that he had studied in Europe in 1680 that was also visible in Mexico.
Padre Kino published a treatise titled “Exposición Astronómica de el Cometa” and on the cover appeared the image of Guadalupe. He wrote that “We have so close (to us) a copy of that divine lady, Mother of God, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, who bestows protection on Mexico. She is surrounded by the sun, embellished by the stars, with the moon as her carpet and uplifted by a Cherub. There is nothing in the heavens, commanding as the moon may be, that does not serve as adornment to her image. What would the original be (to behold)?”
Padre Kino sent copies of his treatise to the Duchess of Aveiro, Guadalupe De Lancaster, to distribute to the Spanish Court. In his letters to the Duchess he stated that he celebrated Mass weekly at La Capilla de Guadalupe. He wrote on July 4, 1681 that he was sending her images of Our Lady which he “placed against the sacred picture itself of Our Lady of Guadalupe….. I kept all five images on the altar, on the very corporal where the sacrifice of the Mass under the species of bread and wine takes place— the price of our redemption.”
Eleven months later enroute to Baja California, Padre Kino wrote the Duchess averring that “The city which by God’s favor and that of the Blessed Virgin we shall found in California within the next three to five months, will be called, by God’s grace, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de las Californias.”
In a letter to Padre Francisco de Castro, Padre Kino reported that Padre Matia Goni and he arrived in La Paz on April 2, 1683. Engaging the native people they showed them “a crucifix and on another day an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but they gave no sign of actually having or ever having had any acquaintance with these objects or with matters concerning the Catholic religion.”
Naming the small church at the fort the “Real de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe,” Padre Kino commented that “within a few months we can begin to administer baptism, since these Indians seem to me to be the most tractable, affable, cheerful and jovial in all America.” Unfortunately, on July 3, 1683, the peace was broken by Spanish soldiers and padres were forced to abandon their first mission in Baja.
On Dec. 15, 1683, Padre Kino wrote the Duchess reporting that in October a new mission was started at San Bruno and that he placed a lovely image of Guadalupe on the main altar. Later he wrote thanking her for the incense figures that she sent, adding that he used them on the altar of Guadalupe when he made his final religious vow on Aug. 15, 1684.
However, by May of 1685, this mission failed due to lack of resources. Padre Kino arrived in the Primería Alta in 1687, and while he did not name any of his new missions after Guadalupe, his Marian naming practice continued.