11. Religion at the Royal Fort of San Agustín del Tucson, 1779–1821.
THE FRANCISCAN MISSIONARIES AT BAC responsible for propagating the Christian gospel among the heathen northern Piman Indians living at Tucson enjoyed fairly regularly the company of clerical colleagues from the Royal Spanish Post of San Agustín del Tucson. This situation has been suggested in the description in Chapter 7 of the 1782 attack on the post by hostile Apaches while the Indian missionary and post chaplain watched from the roof of the mission at Tucson Pueblo.
During the 24 years the garrison was stationed at Tubac, it had been ministered to more often than not by first Jesuits and later Franciscans of Guebavi and Tumacacori Missions. It had seldom rated a chaplain of its own. Once the company transferred to Tucson, however, it seems to have been assigned a military chaplain on a permanent basis.
The first post chaplain of record was Father Francisco Perdigon, who was on duty at Tucson by May of 1779. He set a good example to his parishioners and taught the children their catechism and the fundamentals of reading as well as fulfilling his duties to the soldiers. The chaplain quarreled publicly with post commandant Captain Pedro Allande y Saabedra. So bitter was their antagonism that Perdigon requested Adjutant Inspector Don Roque de Medina to transfer him to any other post whatsoever. Medina in fact recommended that Perdigon be sent to Santa Cruz and that one of the pair of Franciscan missionaries then serving San Xavier del Bac and the Native American Pueblo of Tucson be appointed chaplain of the post.1 As related in Chapter 7, Apaches killed Friar Perdigon on 26 June 1780 some 12 miles from Arizpe. The armed escort returning the priest to Arizpe from the St. John's Day festivities at Bacanuchi had fled from the attack, abandoning the priest to the Indians. Two of those who fled were also slain,2 as attested to by 1950s excavations in the Arizpe church. The three were found in a common burial place, wrapped together in a coarsely woven blanket. A burial entry in the Arizpe church records gives further details.3
On 26 June 1780, the Apaches killed on the slope toward Bacanuchi the Reverend Father Chaplain of the Royal Presidio of Tuczon Friar Francisco Perdigón, Franciscan religious belonging to the Province of the Holy Gospel of México. The appropriate funeral honors were paid
On said day, month and year, they killed in company with the aforesaid Reverend Father, one whom he brought as a servant. It has been impossible to verify his name or marital status. They killed in the same way José de Torres, apparently a mulatto, originally from Chihuahua, who was married, although it has not been possible to discover his wife's name. They are buried in this Church, and in order to attest I signed.
Despite his differences with the unfortunate Perdigon, Pedro Allande y Saabedra paid for erecting the first church for the new Tucson post. “Finally, since there was no church, he has made a very large and pretty one, entirely at the expense of his own stipend.”4 Either Spanish colonial standards of military chapel size differed from those of Anglo-Americans or Allande's “large” chapel did not endure. A Texas cattle driver in 1854 estimated the chapel was 20 feet by 10, with plaster only on its facade.5
The next chaplain of the Tucson garrison of whom records have been discovered was Friar Gabriel Franco. Father Franco was the chaplain when Apaches attacked the post on 1 May 1782, and part of his account of the battle has already been quoted in translation6 in Chapter 7. Chaplain Franco was present when the post was inspected in November of 1782,7 and the end of December in 1783.8 By October of 1785, the chaplain's post was vacant, however, because “of his having been ordered to suspend the exercise of his functions by the Illustrious Bishop and to go to the presence of the latter at the Real of the Alamos.”9 Unfortunately, nothing more is known of Franco at this writing. A blank in the record of chaplains gaps between 1785 and 1796.
One notable occurrence in presidial religion toward the end of this period was a Franciscan mission, which would be termed a revival by Protestants. The Guardian of the College of the Holy Cross in Querétaro sent ten friars to preach to the clergy-shay populace on the Gulf of California coast to renew its faith and to seek alms for Indian missions. This contingent of hardy priests preached all the way to the northwestern frontier of New Spain, ending their mission at the Presidio of San Agustín del Tucson,10 evidently around mid-October of 1795. Meanwhile, there was a chaplain on the post in 1793,11 but his name is unknown.
A good deal is known about the last royal chaplain of the company of San Agustín del Tucson. He was Pedro Antonio de Arriquibar, a native of the Spanish peninsula born in Viscaya in the Kingdom of Castile. Arriquibar became a Franciscan priest “of the Regular Observance of our Father Saint Francis, Apostolic Preacher”12 prior to 1770. He arrived in Mexico on 2913 Arriquibar left the City of Mexico in October headed for Tepic, and in February of 1771 sailed for Lower California. His ship ran aground, and Arriquibar was unable to reach the peninsula until 24 November 1771. There ecclesiastical authorities assigned him to the mission of Santa Rosalia de Mulage, where he remained for two years. He sailed from Loreto on 19 October 1778.14
Arriquibar's trail then disappears for a couple of years. By 26 February 1775, he had arrived at Tumacacori Mission and was officiating there,15 meeting the soldiers who would found the post at Tucson the following year. After the garrison moved, Arriquibar stayed on at Tumacacori until late March 1780, when he transferred south to San Ignacio Mission.
When a Pima Indian company was raised and stationed at San Ignacio, Arriquibar became its acting chaplain. Perhaps ministering to soldiers at both Tumacacori and San Ignacio persuaded Arriquibar that his real destiny lay in becoming a chaplain. In any event, Arriquibar obtained from the Pope on 10 February 1784 special dispensation from his vows of poverty so that he could be paid like chaplains who did not belong to an Order, acquire property and bequeath it. Military officials soon transferred the Pima Indian Company to Buenavista in southern Sonora, and then to the former post at Tubac, which it re-activated. Arriquibar remained at San Ignacio, however, until 1794,16 when he finally entered the Spanish army as chaplain of the Opata Indian company at Bacoachi in eastern Sonora.
The president of the Pimería Alta missions counseled against this move, but Arriquibar had made up his mind. Whatever knowledge the priest may have acquired of the Northern Piman language and customs during the previous 19 years would have stood him in little stead among the Opatas and Peaceful Apaches at Bacoachi. He probably began at once to seek reassignment. Arriquibar was in Bacoachi at least as late as September of 1795.17 By that time, however, everyone from Adjutant Inspector Pedro Mata to the mission president anticipated that Arriquibar would move to Tucson as its chaplain at any moment. The Father President inferred that Arriquibar obtained this chaplaincy by the intervention of the commandant of arms. Some time in 1796, apparently, Arriquibar achieved his goal and transferred to the Royal Post of San Agustín del Tucson.18
The Franciscan charged with leading the Pimería Alta missions characterized Arriquibar as being very cerrado on leaving mission work for a military chaplaincy. This term is frequently used by Latin Americans to label Anglo-Americans. In that context it denotes frigidity of social interaction by Latin-American standards. Applied to Arriquibar, it evidently meant that he behaved very individualistically and outside the norm for his Order in his time.
Viewed in the context of later historic departure of Franciscans assigned to Northern Piman Indian missions from their Order, Arriquibar's transfer might be interpreted as disenchantment with the colonial mission institution. In the 1790s, Arriquibar could not very well simply resign from the Order and church and go into another sort of work. The university or hospital administration jobs open to many a modern Franciscan leaving his Order were not
In March of 1796, Friar Diego Bringas asked the commandant of the Frontier Provinces to assign four of eight new missionaries to act as chaplains to the garrisons at Tucson, Tubac, Altar and Santa Maía. He sought this change to ease the cost of doubling the number of missionaries in Pimería Alta.19 While two missionaries thereafter labored in Bac and Piman Tucson, Arriquibar remained as presidial chaplain until his long life ended on 17 September 1820.20 When the chaplain died, he left about 600 pesos, 40 head of cattle, 27 horses and mules, a house and spartan furnishings, including 50 books and a few clothes.21 He was considered to be one of the wealthiest men on the post,22 and his library probably was the largest in the settlement. The royal decree of 26 December 1804 ordering clergymen to divest themselves of their property23 appears not to have kept Arriquibar from accumulating material goods.
From documents written by Arriquibar's own pen we can gain some idea of the state of grace of his parishioners, and the physical plant of his church in the frontier military post. His inventory of the sparse church furnishings made early in 1797 (Inventory 1, Appendix) provides an idea of the state of the military chapel shortly after Arriquibar's arrival in Tucson a little over a decade and a half since its erection.
The presidial chaplain prepared this inventory during an inspection visit by Licenciado Manuel M. Moreno, a representative of the bishop of Sonora. Arriving on the post on 20 January, the bishop's deputy remained there for six days. Undoubtedly he confirmed numerous young people instructed by their parents and perhaps Arriquibar. Unfortunately for the new chaplain, the inspector found nothing to his liking. He noted, “The church [is] very bad. Its utensils [are] not at all good. There is no holy oil nor holy water font. Books very disordered. There are no matrimonial diligences.” The visitor added that “appropriate measures were provided and dictated.”24 Unhappily for historical reconstruction of clerical administration of the presidio, the orders evidently were entered on the presidial records which have disappeared, so we know not their import.
Possibly Arriquibar had only recently arrived at Tucson, but he may also have put off preparing an enumeration of population and chapel inventory until Licenciado Moreno arrived and reminded him of the episcopal circular calling for them. Arriquibar himself noted, in a letter translated later in this chapter, that he let his correspondence pile up. Quite probably the bishop's deputy charged Arriquibar with improving the physical equipment of the military chapel. Certainly Arriquibar did so, and informed the bishop of his accomplishment. Within seven years of the date of his first inventory, Arriquibar
In this Holy Church that is in my charge, a most pious image of Our Lady of Piety located on the main altar in its gilt frame is venerated with tender devotion. I would say its size is more than two yards high and more than a yard wide. I humbly beg that as a result of love for this Mother of Piety, and in order to excite in some devotion to this Mother of Piety and augment it in all, Your Illustrious Reverence may deign to concede the customary indulgences with the endowment which might be the will of Your Illustrious Reverence.”25
There can be little question that obtaining statuary, vestments and ecclesiastical supplies remained a problem for the military chaplain of the royal post “which is located in the most distant part of Christendom” as the president of the Pimería Alta missions phrased it. Friar Francisco Yturralde thus referred to the Presidio of Tucson in 1799 when he asked the newly consecrated bishop of Sonora for three crystal bottles of Holy Oil.
“By the will of God, Your Most Illustrious Reverence will consecrate the Holy Oils during next Holy Week, but I know not where,” wrote the father president. Then he begged, “Here we are very distant, Illustrious Sir. Therefore, I pray with humble affection and due respect that you should order your Secretary to send us in three crystal bottles the quantity you think sufficient for fifteen towns that are comprehended in the eight Missions in my charge, as well as three Presidios to which we presently minister.” Then the missionary leader added a request for Arriquibar: “The oils for the Presidio of Tucson, which is located in the most distant part of Christendom and linked to the Mission of San Xavier del Bac, can also come [with this shipment].” Friar Francisco also named agents to receive the Holy Oil in either Alamos or Cieneguilla.26 A marginal notation on the petition indicates that the bishop sent the Holy Oil to Alamos for transshipment to the frontier priests. Despite apparent difficulties in supplying the presidial chapel with the symbols of religious devotion, new ideas of society diffused to this remote Sonoran frontier.
Chaplain Arriquibar on 6 January 1804, acknowledged a decree from the bishop of Sonora promulgated 3 August 1803 ordering extensive reforms in the education of children in the frontier presidios. This followed changes in civil education ordered by the intendent. It made chaplains responsible for supervising basic education of youngsters in such areas as the catechism, moral principles and obedience to duly constituted authority.27 Probably Arriquibar began to take an active role in educating Tucson's youngsters in accord with this measure designed to counter the spread of ideals of the United States and French social revolutions.28
The chaplain had received the bishop's directive on 16 December 1803. When he acknowledged it, he wrote a letter to the bishop and another to his secretary that same day in January, suggesting that he habitually let his correspondence pile up and answered it all at once. The second letter Arriquibar wrote that day replied to a letter from the bishop's secretary dated 16 September 1803, and dealt with matrimonial affairs and the chaplain's relation to them:
I have received the very nice and instructive letter of Your Honor of September 16 last year with the petition of José María Syqueiros, Armorer of this Company, against his wife María Jesus Arguelles, caught in adultery, and in answer I say to Your Honor that the said Syqueiros being quite Christian and human and instructed in that maxim of the Sacred Gospel Dimittite et dimitretur Vobis [Forgive as you would be forgiven] has seen fit to pardon his wife all offense, and has united with the woman in their matrimony, which has given me the greatest joy. sI have given many and very humble thanks to the Most High by whose means I have been freed from taking more measures very strange, repugnant and laborious for me in a country so remote as this is, where scarcely a person is found who knows how to write.
Despite what I have expressed, this couple is now separated because the husband is sick from an accidental contagion which he has communicated to his wife, but when this cause ceases, they will continue their matrimony.29
Reading between the lines of the priest's missive, a modern liberated woman could readily infer that María Jesús Arguelles de Siqueiros lived very much under the domination of males dedicated to their own interests. Additional insight into the morals and ethics of the frontier Spaniards and Mestizos at Tucson and their relationship to the chaplain and church comes from a petition for episcopal indulgence formulated by Chaplain Arriquibar:
Don Juan Romero, former corporal of the Company of the Tucson, Bachelor and legitimate son of the deceased Don Pablo Romero, former Captain of said Company, and of Doña Luisa Bohorquez, citizeness of said post, wishes to contract matrimony with María Gabriela Ramirez, widow of Ygnacio Contreras, soldier of the same company for five years. The realization of this marriage has the dire impediment of relationship in the first degree, because his own brother has had carnal knowledge of said widow and had by her a daughter. Desiring efficiently and with Christian sincerity to quiet his conscience agitated by much remorse, to end scandals, repair the damage which he has occasioned said widow, to legitimize the embryo which she has in her womb, and take her out of the considerable unhappiness and disrepute in which she finds herself, and in manifest risk of committing equal excesses at the age of twenty-eight years with three daughters without counting the embryo which is newly planted in her womb, he begs Your Illustrious Grace. with the greatest submission and most profound humility that as a result
FRIAR PEDRO DE ARRIQUIBAR30
The chaplain dispatched with this petition a letter to the bishop containing his own sentiments. Despite his continual exhortations and sermons in the military chapel, and his declamation against all vices, but particularly against the abomination of luxury, Arriquibar was unable to end scandals practiced by some individuals of the garrison. “Of this class and Number 1 is without doubt Don Juan Romero mentioned in the petition.” Knowing that his own brother had had a daughter by the widow Ramirez, Romero formally betrothed himself to her and then by virtue of this act “made use of her until he impregnated her.” She could not marry the first brother because he was an officer and she was poor, “but he suffered his punishment,” observed the chaplain. According to the chaplain, this widow had nothing notable about her person, believed the promises the Romero brothers made to her, and was very pious. Although Romero was a captain's son, he had no resources beyond his small carbineer's pay because he had been broken from corporal.
The chaplain's own feelings in this matter were summed up in his discouraged plaint to the bishop: “These excesses, sir, are so regretable to me that they make me ready to abandon the enterprise and retire to my convent, but the consideration of the great scarcity of priests which exists in these remote countries animates me to continue.” Apologizing for his lack of proper formality in writing to the bishop, Arriquibar pleaded: “I'am only fifty-nine years of age, without a notary, nor any other person whom I can utilize for such purposes.” Because of the lack of literates at Tucson Presidio, a salary for a secretary would not help, so “I have to do everything except ring the bells.”31
Although he did not have to ring them, Arriquibar evidently did have to buy bells for his church. One of three bells recorded at the chapel in 1854 bore the inscription “Vuestra Señora de Guadalupe Año 1807.”32 Quite possibly Arriquibar had it cast that year. Almost certainly he added it to the chapel, hanging it and a companion bell beside the door, with a third suspended from a gable.
They were probably rung loudly at the wedding of a young ensign, whose problems in 1811 were similar to those experienced by Juan Romero five years earlier. Arriquibar once again petitioned the bishop on behalf of his wayward parishioner, who, like Romero, was the son of a former officer of the Tucson post. This young man wanted to marry a girl with whose sister he had already been intimate. The petitioner was José Sosa, a citizen of Tucson and son of Ensign José María Sosa, then deceased, and Rita Espinosa.33 In a separate letter to the prelate, Arriquibar pleaded in favor of Sosa that the girl with whom he had been intimate was really only a half-sister34 although popular opinion rated his mother one of the wealthiest persons in Tucson.35 Ensign Sosa's widow died at Tumacacori on 16 April 182036 only a few months before Arriquibar.
Echoing the conflict between Captain Allande y Saabedra and Friar Perdigon almost 30 years earlier, Chaplain Arriquibar and post commandant Captain Antonio Narbona were at outs with each other in 1808. Narbona complained to the bishop about Arriquibar's conduct, and hardly had Friar Juan B. Llorens from Mission San Xavier del Bac investigated and placed his report in the hands of the bishop when the latter received a new complaint from the senior officer at Tucson. The bishop wrote to the father president of the missions of Pimería Alta more in sorrow than in anger:
In the same mail which brought to my hands the report by Father Llorens there came to me a new complaint made by the Commandant Narbona to the Commandant General against his own chaplain Father Arriquibar. I should, therefore, be grateful to Your Reverence for repeating the license to the aforesaid Llorens in order that he may, following the authorized testimony from which with appropriate credentials I send him by Your Reverence's hand, conducting himself in the manner in which he did before, again make a summation of that which he is informed by the specified Commandant Narbona concerning the administration of sacraments and healing of souls, as to having married various strangers without any particular diligence and without publication of banns for whatsoever interest.37
The geo-political changes underway in Europe resounded on Spain's far colonial frontier at Tucson. The central governing council of the kingdom tried to raise funds in 1810 all over the colonial empire in order to carry on the war against “the common enemy Napoleon,” and the commandant general of the Frontier Provinces and the bishop of Sonora joined in urging the frontier chaplains to contribute. This circular merits full translation here:38
The Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lord Bishop, Don Friar Francisco Rouset de Jesus, on the 22d of February sent me two copies of documents concerning the contributions which all the vassals of Spain justly ought to make to support the war that it conducts against the common enemy Napoleon. One comes from the Central Governing Junta of the Kingdom. The other comes from the Commandant General of these Provinces. The Bishop wishes us, the Clergy, to cooperate on our part with something, and to inspire our parishioners to do the same. To that end, I beg Your Reverences to take up this matter energetically, calling on each one after the exhortation that you make to them in
Every year that Our Mother and beloved fatherland Spain continues the just war against the impious Napoleon, I subscribe ninety pesos annually with inclusion of that disposed by the royal order, obligating myself to put the excess at the end of every year at the disposition of the Illustrious Bishop together with that which I shall collect from my parishioners by my persuasions.
The patriotic Arriquibar undoubtedly cheered the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815. The death of his long-time Franciscan neighbor Llorens surely saddened Tucson's post chaplain and reminded him of his own advancing age. Death freed Arriquibar from the sadness of witnessing the end of Spanish rule in New Spain.
Somewhat more than a month prior to his demise in 1820, at the age of 78 or 74, Friar Pedro Antonio de Arriquibar may have felt a premonition of that event and decided to inventory the church furnishings in preparation for the new priest who would follow him. This afforded him an opportunity to note that many additions to the post chapel had been built during his long administration, although he seems not to have replaced Allande's basic structure. The choir loft, baptistry, sacristy and a chapel of Our Lady were constructed while Arriquibar was chaplain, according to this final inventory, which shows a considerable increase in furnishings since 1797. The listing appears in full as Inventory 2 in the Appendix.
While the period of material prosperity toward the end of the colonial era at Tucson permitted Arriquibar to improve the structure and furnishings of the post chapel, other aspects of religion remained fairly constant. Members of the garrison enjoyed, for example, exemption from the general Roman Catholic requirement of abstaining from eating meat on Fridays and certain holy days of obligation. This privilege related to the special legal status of the armed forces of Spain. In 1551, the king granted military jurisdiction over civil and criminal legal cases to certain military units. In 1587, he extended that privilege to the entire regular military and naval establishment. Through the course of time, the full privilege of military court jurisdiction came to be labeled the “integral code.”39
Published studies show that presidial troops on the northern frontier of New Spain were classified as part of the regular army during the period when what became the Tucson garrison manned the post at Tubac.40 As regulars, in contrast to the provincial militia units formed during and after the Seven Year's War, they enjoyed the privilege of the “integral code.” This distinction meant a considerable difference in the fasting expected by ecclesiastical authorities. The bishop of Sonora spelled out this difference in circulars issued in 1805, 1808 and 1809.
The 1805 circular disseminated the policy set by the vicar general of the Spanish army. The 1808 circular disseminated the determination of Pope Plus Seventh that only members of the regular army who enjoyed the “integral code” had the grace of ignoring fasts. Militiamen or others who did not hold the privilege of the “integral code” were “excluded from the grace with regard to fasting and eating meat specified in our first-cited circular,” wrote Bishop Francisco Rouset de Jesús. Then in mid-December of 1809, the bishop of Sonora, Sinaloa and the Californias issued yet another circular aimed toward dispelling all confusion on the subject.41
We declare that military men who according to the rule laid down in our previous circulars enjoy the “integral code” could and can because of their privileges at all times and all days of the year eat without scruple milk products and meats except on Ash Wednesday, the Fridays of every week of Quaresma, and the four final days of Holy Week.
On those days of obligation, the military establishment was to observe the same food regulations as the other American subjects of His Catholic Majesty, admonished the bishop. If, however, military men were actually campaigning or on an expedition on those dates, they could still ignore the fasting rules.
In other words, military men with the integral code were excused from fasting on Saturdays during Quaresma and on three days of Holy Week. They could also eat milk products and meat on the other days of obligation, even mixing meat and fish at the same meal. Moreover, enlisted men who traveled on any of the days of obligation were excused from fasting on those days.
The bishop further granted military men of whatever rank the privilege of combining fish and meat in the same meal, “because of their low pay and because of the circumstances and distance of their posts and scarcity of food supplies which force them to choose for their necessary nutrition that which they encounter or are able to purchase at the lowest price.”
Even the families of the specially privileged military man shared to a limited extent in his exemption from church dietary rules. Members of the family and household of military men enjoying the integral code could share the meat purchased by the soldier for his own consumption on days when others abstained. On the other hand, members of the family “ought and are absolutely obliged to observe at that time the obligation of fasting, without being able on those days on which it is generally prohibited to eat meat to mix meat with fish.” Apparently this injunction aimed at preventing family
The bishop differentiated even more between members of the family of a military man and other members of his household. “The servants of military men who receive their ration allowance in cash, and guests who do not live for some time in the house and at the expense of said military men are not granted the privilege of eating meat on the above mentioned days.”
In order to make sure that these ecclesiastical rules of military conduct would be observed in the numerous military posts in his diocese, Bishop Rouset de Jesús dispatched copies of his circular to the military chaplains. Further, he required them to copy it into their records, countersign it and return it to his office. Even though the copy countersigned by Friar Pedro Arriquibar is not at hand, we can be fairly sure from other countersigned copies that one conveyed the episcopal message to the chaplain of Tucson, and that he admonished his parishioners accordingly.
Even though the Sonoran diocese was vast, the royal mail did carry written messages to the most remote outposts, so that provincial Christians were part of the even vaster communication network of the Roman Catholic Church. Scarce as Arriquibar and other clerics felt priests to be, they achieved an enduring impact upon the Native American and Spanish-speaking population of the Tucson area and the Papaguería beyond.