Twelve Apostles of Mexico

Six of the First Twelve, mural in the ex-convento of Huexotzinco. Motolinia is depicted fourth from the left

The Twelve Apostles of Mexico, the Franciscan Twelve, or the Twelve Apostles of New Spain, were a group of twelve Franciscan missionaries who arrived in the newly-founded Viceroyalty of New Spain on May 13 or 14, 1524 and reached Mexico City on June 17 or 18. with the goal of converting its indigenous population to Christianity. Conqueror Hernán Cortés had requested friars of the Franciscan and Dominican Orders to evangelize the Indians. Despite the small number, it had religious significance and also marked the beginning of the systematic evangelization of the Indians in New Spain.

Franciscan Fray Pedro de Gante had already begun the evangelization and instruction of natives in New Spain since 1523. Fray Juan Galpión had offered himself as a missionary but could not go himself; he organized the Twelve Franciscans with Fray Martín de Valencia as its head. The group consisted of:

(Juan de Palos, a lay Franciscan, took the place of Fray Bernardino de la Torre, who did not sail with the group. Fray Andrés de Córdoba was also a lay brother.)

The most famous of the Twelve was Toribio de Benavente Motolinia, whose extensive writings on the customs of the Nahuas and the challenges of Christian evangelization make his works essential for the history of this key period in Mexican history.


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