Jesuit Historiography Online

The Historiography of the Jesuit Presence in Oceania
(10,036 words)

Alexandre Coello de la Rosa
[email protected]

Last modified: December 2016

Introduction: from res nullius to Missionary Knowledge

Of all Oceanian islands, the Society of Jesus only set foot on some archipelagos lying within what we know as Micronesia.1 On June 15, 1668, Diego Luis de San Vitores and five other Jesuits, supported financially by Her Majesty Queen Mariana of Austria (1634–96), arrived at Guåhan (or Guam) from the viceroyalty of New Spain.2 Throughout the seventeenth century, a great number of missionaries, together with their auxiliaries, became “illustrious heroes” of the Catholic reform. The culmination of the Jesuit missionary experience in martyrdom made those islands not only frontier territory, but sites notably distinguished by the blood of missionaries.3 However, not all Jesuits were unanimous about abandoning the Mariana Islands. In fact, many thought of using them as stepping stones to Japan and to other Pacific islands, such as the Palau and Caroline archipelagos, so that it was not until the failure of the expeditionary mission of Fr. Giovanni Antonio Cantova in 1731 to the Caroline Islands that the crown decided to reinforce its presence in the Marianas until 1769, when the Society of Jesus was finally expelled from the Philippines.

In the past decades, historians have interpreted early modern Christian missions not simply as an adjunct to Western imperialism, but also as a privileged field for cross-cultural encounters.4 Placing the Jesuit missions into a global phenomenon that emphasizes economic and cultural relations between Europe and Micronesian islands, Spanish historians and anthropologists have recently analyzed the possibilities and limitations of the religious conversion in Guåhan and the northern Mariana Islands. After the second Spanish-Chamorro War (1684), Jesuit missionaries strove to consolidate political and religious dominion of the Marianas. Shortly after, the archipelago turned into a laboratory for implementing a universalistic ideal of salvation. However, these top-down strategies of external governmental dominion have often obscured the dynamics by which the local imposed itself upon European normative assumptions, or was subjected to them.

Drawing from a world history of Christianity within the framework of global history, historians have recently devoted a great deal of attention to the interaction between universal principles and the way in which local political actors conditioned the work of missionaries. In this perspective, some scholars, such as David Atienza, do not align with a historiographical approach that would simply reduce the so-called Chamorros of the eighteenth-century Mariana Islands to fervent Catholics or “peonized peasants” (Alkire, 1977; Campbell, 1989; Rogers, 1995).5 Other scholars, such as Pedro Cardim, Tamar Herzog, José Javier Ruiz Ibáñez, and Gaetano Sabatini, among others, have challenged the core-periphery model that perceives native peoples as passive recipients of core innovations, without actively participating in the making of politics on a larger scale.6

While some specialists (Alkire, 1977; Kiste and Marshall, 1999)7 argued that there are no “pure” native Chamorros left because of decimation or extinction, other scholars (Quimby, 2011, 2012; Atienza, 2014; Hezel, 2015, Coello, 2016) maintain that they survived by “playing an active role in the historical development of their islands and in the history of the Pacific.”8 Instead of stressing the alleged remoteness and isolation of the Marianas, they emphasize cosmopolitanism and the circulation of ideas as indications of reciprocal relations among European, American, Asian, and Oceanic peoples. There was an ongoing interplay between the pre-existing local conditions and the imported attitudes and morals finally imposed upon the population. By highlighting the local dimension, some historians of colonial regimes adhere to a process of missionary “glocalization” which allowed Chamorros to enter the international community as members of Spain’s regional empire and the global communion of the Roman Catholic Church.9

One of the primary tasks in writing about the global consciousness of the Jesuit enterprise is determining the geographic limits of the territories of Spanish Asia that were part of the viceroyalty of New Spain.10 If the captaincy general of the Philippines were at the rearguard of what was for a time known as the “Spanish lake” (1513–1607),11 the Marianas appeared as a marginal space, a transit point between New Spain and Manila that some French intellectuals would have no qualms about referring to as a “non-place.”12 However, recent historiography has challenged the simple application of deterministic notions, such as their geographic (isolation), economic (poverty and lack of mineral resources), or demographic (low population) conditions as a way to justify missionary permanency.13 Frontiers—or “contact zones,” in the words of Marie Louise Pratt—are not rigid spatial lines separating culturally different groups of people but places where active agents of early modern globalization have a pivotal role in the transformation of cultures.14 Against the view of some traditional scholarship, the Marianas were not entirely autonomous, self-enclosed, or isolated from the rest of the Pacific islands. Early transactions between Chamorro society and Micronesian cultures, and the later, more regularized iron trade with European vessels after Ferdinand Magellan’s initial landfall in Guåhan on March 6, 1521, constituted different phases of a continuum of regional and global exchanges in objects, arms, and peoples of the Marianas archipelago.15

The Arrival of the Jesuits in the Philippines

By the middle of the sixteenth century, the Spanish Crown had established an overseas empire of colossal dimensions.16 European trade from the Far East, established at least from the fifteenth century, formed “articulated” circuits that played, however irregularly, into the growing Atlantic commercial system.17 Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the idea of the Christian mission became synonymous with the expansion of European science and “civilization.”18 Christianity was, as a matter of principle, intolerant of religious diversity precisely because Christian universalism asserted the historical and moral unity of humankind in religious terms. As a result, the mission was “a frontier institution that sought to incorporate indigenous people into the Spanish colonial empire, its Catholic religion, and certain aspects of its Hispanic culture through the formal establishment or recognition of sedentary Indian communities entrusted to the tutelage of missionaries under the protection and control of the Spanish state.” This “joint institution of indigenous communities and the Spanish church and state” was developed to stop or at the very least decrease the power of “enterprising civilians and soldiers” on the expanding frontier, which too often resulted in the abuse of the natives and “a heightening of antagonism.”19

In the context of creating new imperial spaces,20 the Society of Jesus, the first religious organization with a global character, became the protagonist in the cultural and religious assimilation of the Iberian Eastern realms—both Spanish and Portuguese.21 The few Jesuits that arrived at the Philippines in 1581 via New Spain—and eventually to the Marianas—became agents of transformation vis-à-vis the cultures that they came into contact with. Schools or colegios were the Jesuit starting point; from them the members of the Society organized their so-called “flying missions,” which were soon followed by the “long missions” that superiors sent to the groups of “infidels” across the Philippine territory.22 To attend to these multiple open fronts, Superior General Claudio Acquaviva (in office, 1581–1615) sent twenty-five priests to the Philippines under the auspices of Philip II (r.1556–98), who, at that time, promulgated a royal decree that divided the missions territory of that finis terrae into four areas of influence: Pampanga and Ilocos were to be ministered by the Augustinian order; Camarines and Tayabas by the Franciscans; the Visayan Islands by both the Augustinian and Jesuit orders; while Dominicans were in charge of the evangelization of the Chinese population in the Manila Parian and the provinces of Pangasinán and Cagayán.23 The lion’s share went to the Franciscans and Augustinians, while the Jesuits received the poorest and least populated areas of Samar and Leyte.24

In the Philippines and elsewhere in the Spanish empire, the care and control of the population amounted to good government or policía—in Aristotelian terms, the notion of politeia—and were partly achieved through the subjection of the native populations to their parishes that had been founded on the basis of a new global Christian perspective. As Kagan put it, “for Spaniards, policía signified life in a community whose citizens were organized into a republic.”25 The Jesuits, like the rest of the clergy, did not only act as ministers of God, but as political and economic administrators of the missions in their care. In theory, their objectives were pervasively attained: natives were evangelized, thus transforming them through missionary action. But in practice, Jesuit identity was also deeply transformed by processes of indigenous resistance, borrowing, appropriation, and accommodation over the course of years.26

The Marianas and the Jesuit Spirit of Global Expansion

In the last two decades or so, Atlantic history has emerged as a cultural, geographic, and historical category that led scholars to focus primarily on transoceanic connections, empire-state building, and cultural difference.27 As a single unit of historical analysis, Atlantic perspective was artificially constructed or “invented”—as David Armitage pointed out—to drive historical scholarship on transoceanic history. In so doing, European historians focused on intra-imperial interactions between metropolitan centers and their new-world colonies. Considering the unity of the Caribbean, and by extension the Atlantic world, as a by-product of European imperialism, reduced the main concerns of Atlantic history to the rationale of an exploiting metropole.28

By exploring the interactions and economic and cultural exchanges between the peoples of Western Europe, West Africa, and the American territories, Atlantic history benefited analyses of core-periphery relations in the Spanish imperial space as a result of the modern process of globalization.29 In this same vein, a “Pacific world” of great diversity and territorial dispersion came to the fore to transcend nationalistic, longitudinal, and teleological structures and help us write a “horizontal,” trans-national (that is, comparative) and trans-imperial history of one of the most dynamic regions of the Hispaniarum rex (the king of the Spains).

Much of the scholarly work in the “Pacific” includes the expertise of historians, anthropologists, marine archaeologists, historical linguists, novelists, and political activists, who confronted colonial assumptions of isolation, helplessness, and dependency. An Oceanic history of the Pacific has much to do with a continuum of encounters with seafaring peoples inhabiting “our sea of islands,” as Tongan writer and scholar Epeli Hau’ofa put it,30 which generated a “mediating contact culture” through migration, navigation, and trading networks around the entire region of today’s Oceania.31 Rather than looking for vanishing cultures of lost paradises, Pacific scholars, such as Nicholas Thomas, David Hanlon, Greg Dening, Vilsoni Hereniko, among many others, are influenced by anthropological methodologies and approaches, paying special attention to issues of cross-cultural contact, colonial exchanges, political sovereignty and cultural preservation.32 As a result of “decentering” Euro-American narratives of discovery, Chamorro scholars, such as Vicente Diaz, claim that Chamorro identity cannot be regarded as static and immobile, but as a process that stresses indigenous agency and situational flexibility.33 These interactions have been central elements in the construction of Chamorro adaptive culture, which is reflected in present-day Guam’s indigenous neo-Chamorro people.

As Matt K. Matsuda wrote, defining the “Pacific” is not an easy task but a daunting challenge.34 What should be included and what should not in such a cultural category? Which are the limits of such archipelagic (constructed) world? The 1961 The Jesuits in the Philippines (1581–1768) of Jesuit Horacio de la Costa (1916–77) continues to be the definitive study on the activities pursued by the Society of Jesus in the Philippines.35 Unfortunately, it contained few references to the missions in the Mariana Islands, presumably because they were not considered as part of the archipelago.36 In the last fifty years or so, scholarly production of seventeenth-century Christianization of the Marianas has mostly focused on the intertwined histories of colonial church and the crown, paying special attention to emerging hostilities, military involvement, mutinies of soldiers stationed in the presidio of Guåhan, and demographic decline that ended in the definitive resettlement of the scarce Chamorro population from eight northern Mariana islands (known as Gani) to several “church-villages” of Guåhan in 1699.37

Historian Marjorie G. Driver (University of Guam and Micronesian Area Research Center) produced some of the most important monographs on the history of colonial administration of the Marianas. The first one, El Palacio: The Spanish Palace in Agaña; A Chronology of Men and Events, 1668–1899,38 was published in 1984 as a political survey of Guåhan during 230 years of Spanish administration. In the second one, Cross, Sword, and Silver: The Nascent Spanish Colony in the Mariana Islands,39 Driver analyzed the archipelago’s dependence on the royal situado during the administration of Governor Damián de Esplana (in office, 1674–94). Driver showed that although Manila and Acapulco constituted the two poles of the transpacific axis, the Marianas acted as a sort of technical stopover on the galleon route, which the most corrupt governors, such as Esplana, used to obtain handsome profits from contraband. While the exploitation of the native population was fundamental to this lucrative business, the Jesuit missionary efforts often conflicted with such enterprises.40

Jesuit historian Francis X. Hezel, S.J., currently director of the Micronesian Seminar, a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Pohnpei (Senyavin Islands), examined the evolution of Spanish colonization and missionization of the Mariana Islands. In his first work, “From Conversion to Conquest: The Early Spanish Mission in the Marianas” (1982), Hezel rejected Laura Thompson’s Manichean viewpoint that there had been a genocide perpetrated against the Chamorro people by brutal Spanish soldiers and the rapacious governors of the Spanish Catholic regime.41 In his second work, “From Conquest to Colonization: Spain in the Mariana Islands, 1690 to 1740,” he analyzed the second stage of Spanish colonization that has been often neglected by historians. While Hezel has not found a good reason to alter substantially what he wrote at that time, he has recently published a “companion piece” to the first monograph, “From Conversion to Conquest,” entitled When Cultures Clash: Revisiting the “Spanish-Chamorro Wars” (2015). The argument remains essentially unchanged: the scourge of imported diseases and epidemics was more responsible for the dramatic Chamorro depopulation than was internecine warfare during the intermittent outbreaks of violence commonly known as the “Spanish-Chamorro Wars” (1671–72; 1684; 1690).42 However, in managing the problems of conquest warfare in intercultural contexts, other scholars, such as Augusto V. de Viana (2004), have emphasized how native Filipino soldiers—and loyal Chamorros as well—proved to be essential allies of imperial expansion. Not only were they servants and assistants of the Spanish administration but also soldiers and officers of the mission.43

To date most of recent works on the Marianas have benefited from Rodrigue Lévesque’s series History of Micronesia, which covers in encyclopedic detail a time period from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century in the diverse islands of the Pacific.44 The series transcribes a selection of documents from the principal archives and libraries of Europe and the Americas, and despite some translation errors,45 it still constitutes an invaluable source for historians interested in the Marianas, including relations, royal decrees, reports, maps, as well as the so-called annual letters written by the provincial superiors and including reports on the activities developed by each Jesuit during the previous year. Most of these letters, written in Latin or in the vernacular, are vital chronicles of events from which historians can retrieve demographic, economic, and religious information from the missions administered by the Society of Jesus in Micronesia. These documents are equally valuable for anthropological methods and approaches to cultural study, containing information on ancient Chamorros.46

In line with Michael Bevacqua’s arguments,47 anthropologist David Atienza has recently questioned a prevalent premise of a pure and authentic Chamorro culture situated in the pre-Hispanic past, as well as the “Spanish genocide” that took place during the “Spanish-Chamorro Wars,” which in the following years led to a mixed Hispanicized (neo-Chamorro) population.48 The argument of the “fatal impact of the West upon a defenseless island society,” as Hezel has recently put it,49 overshadows the capacity of Chamorros to exert an effective agency and to manipulate the message that the Jesuit missionaries brought to them, providing for the continuity of the Chamorro cultural experience.50

Historians and anthropologists Vicente M. Diaz and Anne P. Hattori have also criticized this and other canonical visions of the past, such as Robert F. Rogers’s Destiny’s Landfall (1995), that deny the Chamorros’ agency in the (re)construction of their own history.51 Colonialism is an ambivalent and fluid process that involves appropriation, cultural borrowing, and effective resistance on the part of the colonized.52 In a brilliant article, historian Ulrike Strasser has recently emphasized that San Vitores, as the new “Francis Xavier,” perceived the Marianas as a feminine space that invited “the masculine project of planting the seed of Christ by becoming a martyr of faith.”53 In the long run, Catholicism not only did survive as part of Chamorro identity but San Vitores became a local saint and an official founder of the Mariana Islands.54 As a result, it can be argued that Chamorros’ cultural patterns not only survived after the arrival of Spanish colonizers: they were integrated, adapted, or reinterpreted to the new Christian symbols and codes as a way to preserve their own customs and traditions in a wholly Chamorro syncretism.55

A great deal of scholars working on global Christianization, particularly Charlotte de Castelnau-L’Estoile, Michela Catto, Guido Mongini, Silvia Mostaccio, Marie-Lucie Copete, Aliocha Maldavsky, Ines G. Županov, Guillermo Wilde, and Alexandre Coello, have paved the way for analyzing the early modern missions not merely as the key in the frontier system of territorial occupation,56 but as a link in a chain of circulation of (missionary) knowledge.57 The Jesuit missionary vocation cannot be reduced to a simple moving to distant places (“the Indies”), but it was a pastoral strategy that allowed the missionaries, as active agents of a religion with a global projection, to forge a consciousness of themselves by spreading their apostolic strategies all over the world.58

Frameworks for the comparative study of socio-cultural change are simply devices to facilitate understanding.59 However, to evaluate the limits of the “cultural dialogue” established between Christian universalism, on the one hand, and local contextualities centered on natural and cultural diversity, on the other, it is necessary to look at case-studies that reveal the missionaries’ objectives and the results that they obtained.60 Specifically, Alexandre Coello’s last book, Jesuits at the Margins (2016), is framed within the process of historiographical renovation of the scholarship on the early modern Christian missions in the Pacific, studying the complexities of Jesuit missionization in the Micronesian islands of Guåhan and the Marianas.61 On the one hand, it grounds the analysis in the transoceanic relationship of the archipelago and the viceroyalty of New Spain, which included the Philippines. And on the other hand, it shows native agency in resisting and adapting to impositions from the missionaries, thereby constructing new identities. While canonical historiography has generally accepted narratives of utter conquest and successful evangelization of the Marianas, dating from the arrival in 1668 of the Jesuit founder of the Spanish mission, Diego Luis de San Vitores, Coello adopts a theoretical position, well expressed by historians Charlotte de Castelnau-L’Estoile, Marie-Lucie Copete, Aliocha Maldavsky, Luke Clossey, and Ines G. Županov, who sees the Society of Jesus as a vanguard in a context of production and dissemination of missionary knowledge on a global scale.62 Rather than analyzing Jesuits as agents of imperialism, as Cynthia Ross Wiecko has recently put it, they were missionaries accumulating information to facilitate the evangelization process in the rest of the Pacific through an extensive network of agents and collaborators acting in a multinational empire. Neither were Chamorros passive victims of ruthless colonizers and priests who turned them into obedient, loyal, and godly subjects. Modern Guåhan historiography, on the contrary, has recognized that indigenous historical experience and agency transcend what has been represented in Eurocentric histories and apologetic interpretations of the colonial past.63

Spiritual Heroes at the Margins of the Spanish Empire

There is no doubt that the conquest and colonization of the Marianas was not a very profitable enterprise. Initially they did not depend on the Philippines, but on the viceroyalty of the New Spain. The lack of precious metals, especially by comparison with the opulence of the American continent, would have justified their abandonment. The island’s topography was broken by “ravines and gullies,” and it was difficult for the galleons of the Acapulco route to access its coasts.64 But despite these inconveniences, the Jesuits longed to plant the seed of the Gospel and become martyrs.

From 1670 to 1731 about fifteen Jesuits gave their lives for their faith in the Mariana Islands and Palaos (today’s Western Caroline Islands). The first Jesuit to have his blood spilled in the Marianas was Luis de Medina (1637–70), who died on January 29, 1670, along with his Filipino catechist Hipólito de la Cruz in Saipan, where they had gone to resume preaching.65 In 2014, Alexandre Coello and Xavier Baró (re)edited Medina’s printed biography written by the Jesuit Francisco García (1641–85) and published in Madrid in 1673, Relación de la vida del devotísimo hijo de María Santísima y dichoso mártir Padre Luis de Medina de la Compañía de Jesús, which was composed to elevate him to the altars.66 San Vitores and Medina were clearly not guided by a desire for profit or adventure, but by a manifest aspiration to their own salvation in some newly Christianized Pacific islands which had been barely evangelized.

At the very beginning of the eighteenth century, the Jesuit Charles Le Gobien supervised the composition of the first History of the Marianas (Paris: Nicholas Pepie, 1700). The narrative was clearly based on different reports or newsletters written by Morales and other Jesuits on the topography and geology of the islands, the flora and fauna, and the culture and organization of the native Chamorros. One of Le Gobien’s sources was the life and martyrdom of San Vitores published by his fellow Jesuit Francisco García in Madrid in 1683 (of which there was also an expanded Italian version published in Naples in 1686).67 Although Jesuits had royal instructions to send detailed reports of the Pacific islands where they were evangelizing, García, a publicist of the Jesuit order at the court of Charles II (r.1665–1700) in Madrid, was primarily assigned the task of writing a book to promote the beatification of San Vitores, whose life was interpreted as a re-enactment of that of the apostle to the Indies Francis Xavier, already canonized in 1622. As Joan-Pau Rubiés has recently pointed out, García’s hagiography of San Vitores became the first sketch of the history of the Mariana Islands, as the evident similarities between it and Le Gobien’s book attest. Specifically, Le Gobien’s second “book,” the most significant ethnographic chapter of the Histoire, closely follows García’s account, either directly or through other Jesuit texts that were copied from García’s narrative, such as Gabriel de Aranda’s Vida y martirio of the Jesuit Sebastián de Monroy (Seville, 1690). This would ultimately demonstrate, as the new Spanish (and forthcoming English) edition by Alexandre Coello (2013) sustains, that were Spanish Jesuits, probably the procurator Luis de Morales, who most likely wrote the History of the Marianas. In any case, the attention paid by Le Gobien to the new mission of the Marianas, as Joan-Pau Rubiés’s prologue points out, was part of the apologetics of the Society’s missionary activity, a propaganda effort in which, precisely, Le Gobien was to specialize.

At that time the Jesuits were in a rather delicate position across Catholic Europe. First, Jansenists’ spiritual movement accused them of following Molinism and probabilistic theology. Along with the charge of moral laxism there was the Chinese rites controversy, which originally was provoked by the Jesuit attempt, inaugurated by Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), to integrate Confucian ethical teachings with Christianity. Critics question that the ritual reverence shown towards ancestors in China, or towards Confucius himself, could be legitimately classified as merely civil rites, and they argued that such services constituted a type of religious worship, amounting to idolatry. The Chinese rites controversy, together with a similar conflict that erupted at the end of the century regarding the Malabar rites in southern India, brought into question the legitimacy of the Jesuit method of cultural adaptation. During the reigns of Louis XIII (1610–43) and Louis XIV (1643–1715), the Society’s mission grew and prospered in France. In line with the propaganda tradition of the Jesuit order, the publication of a book about the “poor and abandoned” Mariana Islands allowed Le Gobien to provide evidence against the accusation of undertaking missions in wealthy and prosperous societies, such as those of Japan, Siam, and especially China, showing that the Jesuits were martyrs for the faith with a genuinely universal apostolic vocation.68

Other scholars, such as Francis X. Hezel, David Atienza, Ulrike Strasser, and Alexandre Coello have recently focused on martyrdom in Micronesian archipelagos. In a 1983 short unpublished article, Hezel wrote on the Jesuit martyrs in the Marianas and Western Caroline Islands and the consequences that their martyrdom entailed for the Jesuit missionary projects up to eighteenth century, when they were finally expelled from Spain’s overseas territories. In addition, Hezel reminds us that Jesuit history in Micronesia did not end after their expulsion; the region continued to be an apostolic field fertilized by the blood of Jesuit martyrs after the violent death of six missionaries, together with four Palauans, at the hands of the Japanese in September 1944.69

Atienza has recently edited and commented a documentary corpus, composed of 149 pages, which was numbered and bound to promote the beatification of Jesuit martyr Manuel Solórzano Escobar (1649–84). This epistolary is composed of ten letters Solórzano sent to his father, Cristóbal, from the first one, dated May 22, 1667, in Carmona, to the last one written before he was stabbed in the head and throat to death by Chamorro natives during the second Spanish-Chamorro war (June 6, 1684).70

Ulrike Strasser has particularly centered on “how mimesis of Francis Xavier played itself out in the lives of two Jesuits, the Spanish Father Diego Luis de San Vitores and the Bohemian Father Augustine Strobach, who sought to emulate the ‘Apostle of the Indies’ in the Marianas, long after his death and canonization.”71 As Strasser points out, they were “virtual "copies” of Francis Xavier with a twist: while the original Xavier longed for martyrdom in vain, San Vitores and Strobach were able to shed blood for the faith."72 It was in the very act of preaching the gospel to distant souls living in a cluster of islands in the Pacific’s vastness that the Jesuit missionaries worked out their concern for the souls least distant, their own.73 This powerful motive, pointed out by Pierre Chaunu,74 raises doubts about the opinion of scholars like Cynthia Ross who recently referred to the Jesuits as simple agents directly engaged in the imperial conquest of Guåhan beginning in 1668.75

Twentieth-Century Jesuits at the New Pacific World Empires

Without a doubt, Spanish colonialism was tragic for the natives of the Marianas. In 1670, Maga’lahi Hurao, the high-caste Chamorro leader, eloquently delivered a rousing speech to two thousand warriors expressing his distrust of the superiority of Spanish while also defending the ancestral ways and customs of his people. Unlike Kepuha, the first Chamorro leader to be baptized and subjugated by the Spanish, Hurao represented the other side of the coin. He represented an indigenous leader who stood up to the Spanish invaders, becoming a sacrificial hero who was elevated to the ranks of local martyr of the Marianas, in contrast to the foreign Jesuit martyrs who died at the end of the seventeenth century. It is not surprising, therefore, that his famous speech is posted in places of prominence in modern Guåhan and displayed everywhere in the island as a way of reflecting indigenous agency and resistance. It has become a symbol of contemporary Chamorro pride and the ongoing quest of Guåhan’s native people’s rights of self-determination.

Le Gobien’s ideas on the primeval liberty and simplicity of the Chamorros came from Michel de Montaigne (1533–92), an author whose work was on the Index of Forbidden Books since 1676—he had questioned the supposed “blessings of civilization.”76 In Ginzburg’s opinion, “[Le Gobien] turned the arguments of Montaigne into a harangue, and the unnamed ‘noble Savage’ into Hurao, the nobleman from the Mariana islands, full of hatred for European civilization.”77 Ginzburg argued that many French Jesuits resorted to Montaigne’s skepticism to refute the Jansenist insistence on the depravation of humanity since Adam’s fall.78

While recent scholarship (Coello, 2013; 2016) reveals serious doubts that Hurao could deliver such a speech in the way Le Gobien (or Luis de Morales) imagined it, twenty-first-century Chamorro historians and activists, such as Jonathan Blas Diaz (1994; 2010) and James Perez Viernes (2016), among others, highlighted concerns with contemporary legacies of colonialism, evangelization, and indigeneity. Particularly, they used Hurao’s speech as a way of challenging “the existing historical canon which framed Pacific islanders as passive, silent, defeated, and even extinct as a result of foreign intrusions.”79 However, recent historiography on Jesuit evangelization of the Marianas does not question Chamorros’ agency at all. Rather the contrary, it argues that they efficiently contested and challenged Spanish domination.

A case in point is Coello’s last chapter of his book, Jesuits at the Margins, in which he emphasizes the indigenous agency and historical continuity of Chamorro culture. After the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines (1768) and the Marianas (1769), Chamorro women accused the deceased Francis Xavier (or Franz) Reittemberger of having abused female members of the Congregation of Our Lady of Light, which was founded in Saint Ignatius Hagåtña in 1758.80 This was the last yet meaningful episode of the Jesuit presence in the Marianas. While Jesuit historiography has situated women into marginal roles, historical documentation demonstrates otherwise. Their participation into the Jesuit Congregation allowed them to preserve the essence of Chamorro culture’s vitality. By denouncing Reittemberger’s abuses to Augustinian Recollect friars, Chamorro women challenged Spanish patrilineal standards of reference that contradicted traditional matrilineal bases of Chamorro society. This defies the practice of Western canonical historiography of emphasizing the demise of Chamorro cultural agency, thus approaching Spanish colonialism as an ambivalent process of control and resistance on the part of the colonizer and the colonized.

Nowadays, Chamorro nationalism’s appropriation of Hurao’s heroic speech is significant not only because its eloquence helped it displace the figure of Kipuha as the emblem of Chamorro culture but also because today it is no longer targeted at the “Spanish invaders” but at their North American allies in World War II.81 Along this line of argumentation, some nationalistic movements of last years, such as the Nasion Chamoru or Chamorro Nation, Guahan Indigenous Collective, Famoksaiyan and the Organization of People of Indigenous Rights (OPI-R),82 have tried to reconstruct the history of the Chamoru people—“the Chamoru race”—from a primordialist perspective that regards Hurao as the “national hero” of present-day Guåhan. As historian Diaz remarked, “Hurao’s message is poignant today as we continue to fight for justice in our homelands.”83

Right after the Treaty of Paris signed with Spain on December 10, 1898, the government of the United States reaffirmed and officially assumed the expansion overseas that the Americans had begun in the mid-nineteenth century. As Elizalde points out, “President McKinley adopted a new policy that consisted of intensifying American involvement in the international scene.”84 By 1899, he had forged a new empire.85 Strategists and officers of the US Navy set up a naval base in Manila from which to defend American interests in the Far East. Others that fervently defended the presence of the United States in the Philippines were religious organizations, such as Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians, who were eager to develop new religious missions in the Pacific archipelago. All of these religious groups represented the Filipinos as savages, backward, inferior in intelligence, and therefore, they had to be uplifted and civilized by God’s grace.86

Catholics were skeptical of the re-evangelization of the Philippines, but they followed suit.87 As regard to Jesuits, they had returned to the Philippines in 1859 after the Society had been restored by Pius VII (r.1800–23) in 1814.88 Although Jesuits never returned officially to Guåhan, they did to the northern Marianas, by then politically separated from the southernmost and largest island of the archipelago, at the request of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, a distinguished Catholic leader of Japan, 158 years after they were forced to leave the Marianas.89 In 1991, Jesuit historian Francis X. Hezel published a path-breaking book on the matter.90 Thus, in 1921, Pope Benedict XV (r.1914–22) asked the Society of Jesus to take the northern Marianas along with the Caroline and Marshall Islands, all of which comprised Japan's mandate under the League of Nations.91 The mission was turned over to the Spanish Assistancy so that during the 1920s and 1930s dozens of Spanish Jesuits were in charge of evangelizing the island, a mission that the other major religious congregations had turned down.92 Under the leadership of the Jesuit Santiago López de Rego Labarta (1869–1941), the vicar apostolic of the mission, the Jesuits strove to build up the Christian communities throughout the islands.93 Information about the first few years of Jesuit activities are available in published collections of letters, principally in Cartas de la provincia de León (vols. 3–4), and in Noticias de los misioneros de las Islas Carolinas y Marianas (Madrid, 1921 and 1923 editions). In addition, two Spanish mission magazines, El ángel de las Carolinas and El siglo de las misiones, together with Higinio Berganza Pinedo, S.J.'s (1892–1925) report, published in El siglo, provided valuable reports and personal reflections on Jesuit missionary work in the vicariate. As Francis X. Hezel pointed out, other material is undoubtedly kept in Spanish and Roman Jesuit archives, as well as in the episcopal residence at Truk, which contains information in the form of journals, episcopal correspondence, and copies of annual report to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.94

Paraphrasing Christian apologist Tertullian (c.155–c.240), we might say that the blood of martyrs continued to be the seed of the Catholic Church in Micronesia (Apologeticum, chap. 50:13). Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, conditions changed considerably for the Jesuit vicariate. In September 1944, shortly before the American invasion of Palau, the three Jesuit missionaries working on the nearby island group of Yap, Luis Blanco Suárez (1896–1944), Bernardo de Espriella (1890–1944), and lay brother Francisco Hernández Escudero (1887–1944), together with another group of three Jesuits working in Palau, Elías Fernández González (1880–1944), Marino la Hoz del Canto (1886–1944), and lay brother Emilio del Villar Blázquez (1893–1944), were slain by the Japanese.95 Unfortunately, these were not the only ones. One more Jesuit brother, Miguel Timoner y Guadera (1892–1944), met a violent death at the hands of the Japanese during the final days of the Second World War. After several years working on Rota as Juan Pons’s assistant, he, along with five or the Catholics on Rota, were transferred to Saipan and imprisoned for several months. Finally, in November 1944, Timoner and his five companions were beheaded and their bodies buried secretly, thereby lengthening the list of Micronesian Catholic martyrs.96

Upon analyzing the rise and fall of the Jesuit and Recollect evangelization of the Marianas from seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, historians and anthropologists alike have paid much attention to the contradictions and slips of moral universalism, putting Micronesia into the wider picture of the Philippines’ politics. In the last years, a new scholarship has focused on the way in which native peoples were capable of incorporating and re-semanticizing previous elements of the contact in a new twentieth-century colonial (German, Japanese, US) scenarios. Although Jesuits were expelled from the Marianas, their presence in Micronesia has not disappeared but continued in the islands of Yap and Chuuk. From the Jesuit community in Pohnpei, a significant number of teachers and scholars, such as Francis X. Hezel, have been training the indigenous leaders of the Catholic Church in Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Despite disruptive effects of militarization and forced Catholicization, natives have indigenized European practices and Westernized indigenous elements in a complex historical dialogue over a lengthy period of time.97 Future studies on Jesuit presence in Micronesia should necessarily historicize this process of accommodation (and its contradictions) in a comparative fashion with other missions in Asia-Pacific.


^ Back to text1. On the artificially constructed categories such as “Melanesia,” “Polynesia,” and “Micronesia,” see Matt K. Matsuda, “The Pacific,” AHF Forum, The American Historical Review 111, no. 3 (2006): 758.

^ Back to text2. Rafal Reichert, “La transcripción del manuscrito de fray Ignacio Muñoz sobre el proyecto de manutención y extensión de la fe católica en las islas Marianas, y del descubrimiento y la conquista de las islas Salomón, siglo XVII,” Estudios de historia novohispana 51 (2014): 161.

^ Back to text3. John N. Schumacher, S.J., “Felipe Sonsón: Seventeenth-Century Filipino Jesuit Missionary to the Marianas,” Landas: Journal of Loyola School of Theology 9 (1995): 266–85; J. N. Schumacher, “Blessed Pedro Calungsod, Martyr: An Historian’s Comments on His Philippine Background,” Philippine Studies 49, no. 3 (2001): 287–336; J. N. Schumacher, “Blessed Pedro Calungsod, Martyr: An Historian’s Comments on the Mission in the Marianas,” Philippine Studies 49, no. 4 (2001): 477–85; Resil B. Mojares, “The Epiphany of Pedro Calungsod, Seventeenth-Century Visayan Martyr,” in Lives at the Margin: Biography of Filipinos Obscure, Ordinary and Heroic, ed. Alfred W. McCoy (Quezon City and Madison, Wisconsin: Ateneo de Manila University Press and UW Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 2000), 34–61; Alexandre Coello de la Rosa, “Colonialismo y santidad en las islas Marianas: La sangre de los mártires (1668–1676),” Hispania Sacra 63, no. 128 (2011): 707–45; Ulrike Strasser, “Copies With Souls: The Late Seventeenth-Century Marianas Martyrs, Francis Xavier, and the Question of Clerical Reproduction,” Journal of Jesuit Studies 2, no. 4 (2015): 558–85, here 561. For a connection between the renowned Asian mystic, Catarina de San Juan, and the martyrdom of German Jesuits on the Mariana Islands, see Ulrike Strasser, “A Case of Empire Envy? German Jesuits Meet an Asian Mystic in Spanish America,” Journal of Global History 2 (2007): 23–40.

^ Back to text4. Joan-Pau Rubiés, “Missionary Encounters in China and Tibet: From Matteo Ricci to Ippolito Desideri,” History of Religions 52, no. 3 (2013): 267. For a discussion of the development of a “mediating contact culture” between the Spanish and the Chamorro, see Frank Quimby, “The Hierro Commerce: Culture Contact, Appropriation and Colonial Entanglement in the Marianas, 1521–1668,” The Journal of Pacific History 46, no. 1 (2011): 1–26; Quimby, “Islands in the Stream of Empire: Spain’s “Reformed” Imperial Policy and First Proposals to Colonize the Mariana Islands, 1565–1569,” Proceedings of the First Marianas History Conference: One Archipelago, Many Stories (June 2012) (Saipan: Northern Mariana Islands, 2012).

^ Back to text5. David Atienza de Frutos, “Priests, Mayors and Indigenous Offices: Indigenous Agency and Adaptive Resistance in the Mariana Islands (1681–1758),” Pacific Asia Inquiry 5, no. 1 (2014): 31–48.

^ Back to text6. Pedro Cardim, Tamar Herzog, José Javier Ruiz Ibáñez, and Gaetano Sabatini, “Introduction,” in Polycentric Monarchies: How Did Early Modern Spain and Portugal Achieve and Maintain a Global Hegemony?, ed. Pedro Cardim, Tamar Herzog, José Javier Ruiz Ibáñez, and Gaetano Sabatini (Brighton and Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 2012): 3–8, here 3–4.

^ Back to text7. William H. Alkire, An Introduction to the Peoples and Cultures of Micronesia (California: Cummings Publishing Company, 1977), 20; Robert Kiste and Mac Marshall, American Anthropology in Micronesia: An Assessment (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999): 475–484, here 483.

^ Back to text8. Atienza de Frutos, “Priests, Mayors and Indigenous Offices,” 31; Francis X. Hezel,  “When Cultures Clash: Revisiting the ‘Spanish-Chamorro Wars’” (Saipan: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands [CHMI], 2015): 1–99, here 9–10.

^ Back to text9. Roland Robertson, “Glocalization; Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity,” in Global Modernities, ed. Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash, and Roland Robertson (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1997): 25–43, here 25–43; Ines G. Županov, Disputed Mission: Jesuit Experiments and Brahmanical Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999); Paolo Aranha, “‘Glocal’ Conflicts: Missionary Controversies on the Coromandel Coast between the XVII and XVIII centuries,” in Evangelizzazione e globalizzazione: Le missioni gesuitiche nell’età moderna tra storia e storiografia, ed. Michela Catto, Guido Mongini, and Silvia Mostaccio (Rome: Società Editrice Dante Alighieri, 2010): 79–204, here 79–83.

^ Back to text10. Miguel Luque Talaván and Marta M. Manchado López, eds, Un océano de intercambios: Hispanoasia (1521–1898); Un homenaje al profesor Leoncio Cabrero Fernández, vol. 1 (Madrid: Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, 2008), 13–15. The trans-Pacific galleon trade became the most important source of revenues for the Spanish population in the Philippines. However, the cargo limit of two galleons which brought three hundred tons of eastern merchandise in exchange for 500,000 silver pesos fuertes further discouraged new settlers. This rate was changed in 1702, with 300,000 pesos worth of eastern products delivered in exchange for 600,000 silver pesos. In 1734, it changed again: 500,000 pesos worth of merchandise from Manila for an allowance of up to one million silver pesos from Acapulco (William Lytle Schurz, El galeón de Manila (Madrid: Ediciones de Cultura Hispánica, [1939] 1992). See also Carmen Yuste, “El galeón transpacífico: Redes mercantiles alrededor de especias, textiles y plata,” in Un océano de intercambios: Hispanoasia (1521–1898), 1:202–5.

^ Back to text11. William L. Schurz, “The Spanish Lake,” Hispanic American Historical Review 2 (1922): 181–94; O. H. K. Spate, The Spanish Lake (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1979). See also Salvador Bernabéu Albert, El Pacífico ilustrado: Del lago español a las grandes expediciones (Madrid: Colección Mapfre, 1992); Carlos Martínez Shaw, “La exploración española del Pacífico en los tiempos modernos,” in Imperios y naciones en el Pacífico, vol. 1: La formación de una colonia: Filipinas, ed. Mª Dolores Elizalde, Josep Mª Fradera, and Luis Alonso Álvarez (Madrid: CSIC and AEEP, 2001): 3–25, here 7–17.

^ Back to text12. Michel de Certeau, L’invention du quotidien. I: Arts de faire (Paris: Gallimard, 1992), 186–87; Marc Augé, Non-Lieux: Introduction à une anthropologie de la surmodernité (Paris: Seuil, 1992).

^ Back to text13. As Clossey points out, “any vastness of space corresponded to a vastness of time, often to permanency” (Luke Clossey, Salvation and Globalisation in the Early Jesuit Mission [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008], 104).

^ Back to text14. Unlike the Eurocentric perspective of “colonial frontiers,” the notion of “contact zone” is “an attempt to invoke the spatial and temporal co-presence of subjects previously separated by geographic and historical disjunctures, and whose trajectories now intersect” (Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London and New York: Routledge, [1992] 1997), 6–7.

^ Back to text15. On this regard, see Kayako Kushima, Historiographies and Discourses of Isolation: Canonical and Alternative Historical Narratives (MS Thesis, University of Guam, 2001); Quimby, “The Hierro Commerce,” 1–26. See also Nicholas Thomas, “Partial Texts: Representation, Colonialism and Agency in Pacific History,” The Journal of Pacific History 25, no. 2 (1990): 146–47.

^ Back to text16. Peer Schmidt, La monarquía universal española y América: La imagen del imperio español en la Guerra de los Treinta Años (1618–1648) (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2012), 451–66.

^ Back to text17. Bernard Bailyn, “Introduction: Reflections on Some Major Themes,” in Soundings in Atlantic History: Latent Structures and Intellectual Currents, 1500–1830, ed. Bernard Bailyn and Patricia L. Denault (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 4.

^ Back to text18. Adriano Prosperi, “L’Europa cristiana e il mondo: Alle origini dell’idea di missione,” Dimensioni e problemi della ricerca storica 2 (1992): 189–92; Rubiés, Missionary Encounters in China and Tibet, 267.

^ Back to text19. Robert E. Wright, O.M.I., “Spanish Missions,” Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association: (accessed March 15, 2012).

^ Back to text20. My understanding of “empire” has much to do with “webs of trade, knowledge, migration, military power, and political intervention that allowed certain communities to assert their influence and sovereignty over other groups” (Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton, “Introduction: Bodies, Empires, and World Histories,” in Bodies in Contact: Rethinking Colonial Encounters in World History, ed. Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2005), 3.

^ Back to text21. Clossey, Salvation and Globalisation, 1–19.

^ Back to text22. For an analysis of the different mission “types,” see Aliocha Maldavsky, Vocaciones inciertas: Misión y misioneros en la provincia jesuita del Perú de los siglos XVI y XVII (Sevilla and Lima: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas and Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos, and Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, 2012), 71–124.

^ Back to text23. In 1605, not long after the first Chinese rebellion (1603), fourteen Augustinian friars arrived in Manila, soon after followed by the Brothers Hospitallers of San Juan de Dios, although the latter did not undertake missionary tasks (Mª Fernanda García de los Arcos, Estado y clero en las Filipinas del siglo XVIII [Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana/Iztapalapa, 1988], 50–51).

^ Back to text24. John Leddy O’Phelan, The Hispanization of the Philippines: Spanish Aims and Filipino Responses, 1565–1700 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, [1959] 1967), 49–50; Lucio Gutiérrez, Historia de la iglesia en Filipinas (Madrid: Fundación Mapfre América, 1992), 71–73; 204; Gutiérrez, “The Formative Years of the Archdiocese of Manila (1565–1850),” Philippiniana sacra 46, no. 137 (2011): 453–481, here 471.

^ Back to text25. Richard L. Kagan (with the collaboration of Fernando Marías), Urban Images of the Hispanic World, 1493–1793 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 27.

^ Back to text26. “Accommodation” has been defined as a specific feature of the Society of Jesus, namely, a process of flexibility that allowed the Jesuits to accept all that could be acceptable from various cultures (Michela Catto and Guido Mongini, “Missioni e globalizzazioni: L’adattamento come indentità della Compagnia di Gesù,” in Evangelizzazione e globalizzazione, 1–16). On the evangelizing strategies of Italian Jesuits Alessandro Valignano (1539–1606), Michele Ruggieri (1543–1607) and Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) in China, see Nicolas Standaert, S.J., “Jesuit Corporate Culture as Shaped by the Chinese,” in The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540–1773, ed. John W. O’Malley, S.J., et al. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, [1999] 2000), 352–63.

^ Back to text27. Bernard Bailyn, Atlantic History: Concept and Contours (Cambridge:, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005); Bailyn and Denault, “Introduction,” 1–8; Pierre-Antoine Fabre and Bernard Vincent, Notre lieu est le monde: Missions religieuses modernes (Rome: École Française de Rome, 2007), 1–2; Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic, 1550–1700 (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2006); John H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492–1830 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007); Elliott, España, Europa y el mundo de ultramar (1500–1800) (Madrid: Taurus, 2009), 21–26. Fermín del Pino has pointed out that the “Atlantic reply” has constituted an alternative to the postcolonial current that highlights the “deculturation” of Christian imperialism (F. del Pino, “Imperios, utopías y márgenes socio-culturales (José de Acosta y las élites indianas ),” in Jesuitas e imperios de ultramar (siglos XVI–XX), ed. Javier Burrieza, Alexandre Coello, and Doris Moreno (Madrid: Sílex, 2012).

^ Back to text28. However, other scholars, such as Charles Tilly, drew attention to macro-historical processes, particularly to the study of the development of the Atlantic world economy and its evolving global circuits. On this particular issue, see Adrian Leonard and David Pretel, “Introduction,” in The Caribbean and the Atlantic World Economy. Circuits of Trade, Money and Knowledge, 1650–1914, ed. Adrian Leonard and David Pretel (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015), 1–2.

^ Back to text29. Charlotte de Castelnau-L’Estoile and François Regourd, Connaissances et pouvoirs: Les espaces impériaux (XVIe–XVIIIe siècles); France, Espagne, Portugal (Pessac: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux, 2005), 17–22.

^ Back to text30. Epeli Hau’ofa, “Our Sea of Islands,” The Contemporary Pacific, 6, no.1 (1994): 148–61.

^ Back to text31. On the notion of “mediating contact culture,” see Quimby, “Hierro Commerce,” 2.

^ Back to text32. On the centrality of anthropologists to Pacific history, see Matsuda, “Pacific,” 767.

^ Back to text33. As Diaz pointed out, Chamorro culture need not to be understood in terms of an immutably bounded, neatly contained thing that was once upon a time characterized by essential qualities, pure and untainted, as it has (a)historically conceived and represented (Vicente M. Diaz, “Simply Chamorro: Telling Tales of Demise and Survival in Guam,” The Contemporary Pacific 6, no.1 (1994): 29–58.

^ Back to text34. Matsuda, “Pacific,” 758.

^ Back to text35. Horacio de la Costa, S.J., The Jesuits in the Philippines, 1581–1768 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, [1961] 1989). Recently, Delcalzo Yuste’s doctoral dissertation has provided an up-to-date analysis on the Jesuit activities in the Philippines: Eduardo Descalzo Yuste, La Compañía de Jesús en Filipinas (1581–1768): realidad y representación (PhD diss., Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 2015).

^ Back to text36. His eighteenth-century confreres, such as Juan José Delgado (1697–1755) and Pedro Murillo Velarde (1696–1753) had included ethnographic, historical, and ethno-botanical information data on the Mariana archipelago in their Philippines history treatises. At the end of the nineteenth century, Pablo Pastells, S.J. (1846–1932) gathered 116 notebooks on general Philippine natural and social history—included in the Colección Pastells—which also contained information on the Mariana Islands. One of his assistants, Antonio Astrain, S.J., used these sources in his monumental Historia de la Compañía de Jesús en la asistencia de España (Madrid: Razón y Fe, 1902–25). See also José Arcilla Solero, S.J., “Los cronistas jesuitas de Filipinas,” in España y el Pacífico. Legazpi, vol. 2, ed. Florentino Rodao (Madrid: AECI–AEEP, 1989), 377–96). Descalzo Yuste’s recent dissertation (2015) has filled the gap in Horacio de la Costa’s treatment of the Jesuit evangelization of the Marianas, although it is mostly based on Coello’s primary research.

^ Back to text37. On the history of mutinies by ordinary soldiers stationed in Guam in 1680–90, see Stephanie Mawson, “Rebellion and Mutiny in the Mariana Islands, 1680–1690,” The Journal of Pacific History 50, no. 2 (2015): 128–48.

^ Back to text38. First published in 1984 by MARC–University of Guam, this text was republished in 2004 by Marjorie G. Driver and Francis X. Hezel, SJ, El Palacio: The Spanish Palace in Agaña, 1669–1898 (Mangilao, Guam: Richard F. Taitano and MARC, 2004).

^ Back to text39. Marjorie G. Driver, Cross, Sword, and Silver: The Nascent Spanish Colony in the Mariana Islands (Mangilao, Guam: Micronesian Area Research Center and University of Guam, 1987).

^ Back to text40. Other historians have conducted studies on the different ships, Spanish or from other nations, which periodically arrived at the Marianas, providing interesting descriptions on the lives and customs of the Chamorros. See especially Glynn Barratt, The Chamorros of the Mariana Islands: Early European Records, 1521–1721 (Saipan: Division of Historic Preservation and MARC, 2003).

^ Back to text41. Laura Thompson, The Native Culture of the Marianas Islands (Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1945).

^ Back to text42. Hezel, “When Cultures Clash,” 10.

^ Back to text43. Augusto V. de Viana, “Filipino Natives in Seventeenth-Century Marianas: Their Role in the Establishment of the Spanish Mission in the Islands,” Micronesian: Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences 3, nos. 1–2 (2004): 19–26; De Viana, In the Far Islands: The Role of Natives from the Philippines in the Conquest, Colonization, and Repopulation of the Mariana Islands, 1668–1903 (Manila: University of Santo Tomas Press, 2004).

^ Back to text44. Rodrigue Lévesque, History of Micronesia: A Collection of Source Documents, vol. 1 (Québec: Lévesque Publications, 1992).

^ Back to text45. David Atienza, “Lost in Translation, or the Art of Rewriting History?”

^ Back to text46. On the centrality of anthropologists to Pacific history, see Matsuda, “Pacific,” 758–80.

^ Back to text47. Michael Bevacqua, “Transmission of Christianity into Chamorro Culture.” Available online at

^ Back to text48. Hezel, “When Cultures Clash,” 10.

^ Back to text49. Ibid., 9.

^ Back to text50. David Atienza, “The Mariana Islands Militia and the Establishment of the ‘Pueblos de Indios,’” 2nd Marianas History Conference (Mangilao, Guam: University of Guam, 2013), 2. See also Hezel, “When Cultures Clash,” 9–10.

^ Back to text51. See Anne P. Hattori’s review of Robert F. Rogers, Destiny’s Landfall, in Contemporary Pacific 9, no. 1 (1997): 275–77; Vicente M. Diaz’s review in ISLA: A Journal of Micronesian Studies 4, no.1 (1996): 179–99.

^ Back to text52. Vicente M. Diaz, Repositioning the Missionary: Rewriting the Histories of Colonialism, Native Catholicism, and Indigeneity in Guam (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2010), 8.

^ Back to text53. Strasser, “Copies With Souls,” 570.

^ Back to text54. Diaz, Repositioning the Missionary.

^ Back to text55. Vicente M. Diaz, “Pious Sites: Chamorro Culture Between Spanish Catholicism and American Liberal Individualism,” in Cultures of United States Imperialism, ed. Amy Kaplan and Donald E. Pease (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993); Diaz, “Grounding Flux in Guam’s Cultural History,” in Work in Flux, ed. Emma Greenwood, Klaus Neumann and Andrew Sartori (Parkville: University of Melbourne History Department, 1995), 159–71; Diaz, Repositioning the Missionary. See also David Atienza de Frutos and Alexandre Coello de la Rosa, “Death Rituals and Identity in Contemporary Guam (Mariana Islands),” The Journal of Pacific History 47, no. 4 (2012): 459–73.

^ Back to text56. María Fernanda García de los Arcos, “¿Avanzada o periferia? Una visión diacrónica de la situación fronteriza de Filipinas,” in Fronteras del mundo hispánico: Filipinas en el contexto de las regiones liminares novohispanas, ed. Marta María Manchado López and Miguel Luque Talaván (Córdoba: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Córdoba, 2011), 47–69; Antonio García-Abasolo, “Filipinas: Una frontera más allá de la frontera,” in ibid., 71–88.

^ Back to text57. Catto and Mongini, “Introduzione,” in Evangelizzazione e globalizzazione, 1–16; Charlotte de Castelnau-L’Estoile, Marie-Lucie Copete, Aliocha Maldavsky, Ines G. Županov, ed., Missions d’évangélisation et circulation des savoirs, XVIé–XVIIIé siècle (Madrid: Casa de Velázquez, 2011), 1–22; Guillermo Wilde, Saberes de la conversión: Prácticas jesuíticas y escrituras de la alteridad en los confines coloniales (Buenos Aires: Editorial SB, 2012), 15–27.

^ Back to text58. Fabre and Vincent, Notre lieu est le monde, 1–2. On this particular issue of forging a self in early modern Catholic missionary expansion, see also the recent book by J. Michelle Molina, To Overcome Oneself: The Jesuit Ethic and Spirit of Global Expansion, 1520–1767 (Berkeley, CA: California University Press, 2013). See also a critical review of Molina's book by Simon Ditchfield, Journal of Jesuit Studies 1:3 (2014): 484–487.

^ Back to text59. Alexander Spoehr, “Conquest Culture and Colonial Culture in the Marianas during the Spanish Period,” in The Changing Pacific: Essays in Honour of H. E. Maude, ed. Niel Gunson (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1978), 259.

^ Back to text60. Joan-Pau Rubiés, “The Concept of Cultural Dialogue and the Jesuit Method of Accommodation: Between Idolatry and Civilization,” Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu 74: 147 (2005): 237–280, here 242.

^ Back to text61. Alexandre Coello de la Rosa, Jesuits at the Margins: Missions and Missionaries in the Marianas (1668-1769) (London and New York: Routledge, 2016).

^ Back to text62. Castelnau-L’Estoile, Copete, Maldavsky, Županov, ed., Missions évangélisation et circulation des savoirs, XVIé–XVIIIé siècle; Clossey, Salvation and Globalization; J. Gabriel Martínez-Serna, “Procurators and the Making of the Jesuits’ Atlantic Network,” in Soundings in Atlantic History: Latent Structures and Intellectual Currents, 1500–1830, ed. Bernard Bailyn and Patricia L. Denault, (London: Harvard University Press, 2009), 189.

^ Back to text63. For a postcolonial approach of this issue, see James Perez Viernes, “Hurao Revisited: Hypocrisy and Double Standards in Contemporary Histories and Historiographies of Guam” (unpublished manuscript, 2016).

^ Back to text64. “Informe del padre Luis Pimentel, provincial de las islas Filipinas de la Compañía de Jesús de las conveniencias e inconveniencias que puede tener la reducción a nuestra sancta fe católica de las islas que llaman de Ladrones” (ARSI, Philipp. 14, fols. 64r–68r); Reichert, “La transcripción del manuscrito de fray Ignacio Muñoz,” 162.

^ Back to text65. Francis X. Hezel, “Jesuit Martyrs in Micronesia,” In MicSem Articles:

^ Back to text66. Alexandre Coello de la Rosa and Xavier Baró i Queralt, Luis de Medina, S.J.: Protomártir de las Islas Marianas (1637–1670) (Madrid: Sílex, 2014), 9–36.

^ Back to text67. Francisco García, Vida y martyrio del venerable padre Diego de Sanvitores, de la Compañía de Jesús, primer apóstol de las islas Marianas, y sucessos de estas islas, desde el año de mil seiscientos y sesenta y ocho, [h]asta el de mil seiscientos y ochenta y uno (Madrid: Iván García Infanzón, 1683). In Italian, Istoria della conversione alla nostra santa fede dell'Isole Mariane, dette prima de’ Ladroni, nella vita, predicatione, e morte gloriosa per Christo del Venerabile P. Diego Luigi di Sanvitores, e d’altri suoi compagni della Compagnia di Giesù, trans .Ambrosio Ortiz (Naples, 1686), with new sections that describe the 1684 uprising. There is also a modern English translation: The Life and Martyrdom of the Venerable Father Diego Luis de San Vitores First Apostle of the Mariana Islands, and Events of These Islands, from the Year Sixteen Hundred and Sixty-Eight, Through the Year Sixteen Hundred and Eighty-One, ed. James A. McDonough S.J., et al. (Mangilao, Guam: Richard Flores Taitano, Micronesian Area Research Center and University of Guam: 2004).

^ Back to text68. Joan-Pau Rubiés, “Apologética y etnografía en la Historia de las Marianas de Luis de Morales / Charles Le Gobien,” in Luis de Morales and Charles Le Gobien, Historia de las Islas Marianas, ed. Alexandre Coello de la Rosa (Madrid: Ediciones Polifemo, 2013), 10–11. An English version is forthcoming from the Micronesian Area Research Center (MARC) in Mangilao, Guam (2016).

^ Back to text69. Francis X. Hezel, “Jesuit Martyrs in Micronesia,” MicSem Articles:; Coello, “Colonialismo y santidad en las islas Marianas: La sangre de los mártires (1668–1676) ”.

^ Back to text70. David Atienza de Frutos, Fr. Manuel de Solórzano: Letters to His Father; The Mariana Islands’ Epistolary (Mangilao, Guam: Micronesian Area Research Center [MARC], forthcoming.

^ Back to text71. Strasser, “Copies With Souls,” 561.

^ Back to text72. Ibid ., 558.

^ Back to text73. Clossey, Salvation and Globalization, 134. This can be perfectly appreciated in the litterae indipetarum ("indipetae") of the Fondo Gesuitico housed in the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (ARSI) in Rome. Many Jesuits, especially Germans and Italians, asked the Society’s superior general to send them as missionaries to the East Indies, particularly to the Philippines and Mariana Islands. Apostolic zeal and abnegation were upheld as the worthiest of virtues by these men of the cloth who hoped to become martyrs and attain sanctity. For a recent study of the indipetae sent from the Rhineland and upper Germany, see Christoph Nebgen, Missionarsberufungen nach Übersee in drei deutschen Provinzen der Gesellschaft Jesu im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert (Regensburg: Schnell and Steiner, 2007).

^ Back to text74. Pierre Chaunu, Les Philippines et le Pacifique des ibériques: XVIe, XVIIe, XVIIIe siècles (Paris: SEVPEN, 1960).

^ Back to text75. Cynthia Ross Wiecko, “Jesuit Missionaries as Agents of Empire: The Spanish-Chamorro War and Ecological Effects of Conversion on Guam, 1668–1769,” World History Connected 10, no. 3 (2013):

^ Back to text76. Carlo Ginzburg, “Alien Voices: The Dialogic Element in Early Modern Jesuit Historiography,” History, Rhetoric and Proof (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1999), 79–82.

^ Back to text77. Ibid., 80.

^ Back to text78. John McManners, Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France. Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 521–22.

^ Back to text79. J. Perez Viernes, “Hurao revisited.” In a 2010 article, Perez Viernes also reacted against canonical historiography that helped writing a discourse of absolute disappearance of Chamorro males from the physical landscape of the Marianas and larger historical consciousness. As he pointed out, it was a rhetorical tool that justified the replacement of Chamorros by other men, such as Jesuit and Recollect priests, civil servants and Spanish soldiers. James Perez Viernes, “Chamorro Men in the Making: Capitalism and Indigenous Masculinities under US Naval Colonialism in Guam,” eJournal of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies 1, no. 2 and 2, no. 1 (2010): (accessed September 23, 2016).

^ Back to text80. Coello, Jesuits at the Margins, 304–13.

^ Back to text81. Ronald Stade, Pacific Passages: World Culture and Local Politics in Guam (Stockholm: Dept. of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, 1998), 184–200.

^ Back to text82. Today, the OPI-R no longer exists, but other groups, like Famoksaiyan, Nasion Chamoru, Taotao Mo’na Native Rights Group and We Are Guahan, among others, continue to defend Chamorro culture from the colonialism of either the past (Spanish) or the present (American) (Diaz, Repositioning the Missionary, 254–55).

^ Back to text83. Diaz, Towards a Theology of the Chamoru: Struggle and Liberation in Oceania (Quezon City: Claretian Publications, 2010), 66.

^ Back to text84. María Dolores Elizalde, “The Philippines at the End of the Century: Images and Reality,” in More Hispanic Than We Admit. Vol. 2: Insights into Philippine Cultural History, ed. Glòria Cano (Quezon City, Philippines: Vibal Foundation, 2014): 265–300, here 286.

^ Back to text85. Walter LaFeber, The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, [1963] 1998), 416.

^ Back to text86. Elizalde, “Philippines at the End of the Century,” 287; Josep Mª Delgado, “Filipinas en transición (1850–1950),” in Filipinas: Un país entre dos imperios, ed. María Dolores Elizalde and Josep Mª Delgado (Barcelona: Bellaterra, 2011): 27–48, here 34–35.

^ Back to text87. Elizalde, “Philippines at the End of the Century,” 287.

^ Back to text88. René B. Javellana, S.J., “Historiography of the Philippine Province, 1581–1768,” in this collection.

^ Back to text89. As the result of the departure of German missionaries from Micronesian islands between 1914 and 1919, the Japanese government occupied Pohnpei in 1920 and right after asked Rome “to assign to the area missionaries from some neutral country” (John F. Curran, S.J., cited in Teresa del Valle, “Approaching Missionary Activity in Micronesia as a Genderized Phenomenon,” in Micronesia: Visiones desde Europa, ed. Beatriz Moral (Madrid: Ediciones Gondo, 2004): 95–113, here 98, 102.

^ Back to text90. Francis X. Hezel, The Catholic Church in Micronesia: Historical Essays on the Catholic Church in the Caroline-Marshall Islands (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1991), 133.

^ Back to text91. At the onset of World War I, the Japanese navy invaded the Northern Mariana Islands and leaving Guam under US naval governance. For the political division of the Mariana Islands, see Don A. Farrell, “The Partition of the Marianas: A Diplomatic History, 1898–1919,” ISLA: A Journal of Micronesian Studies 2 (1994): 273–301.

^ Back to text92. An expedition of twenty Jesuits from Spain arrived in November 1921, to work in the Japanese territories. Five were assigned to Pohnpei, five to Chuuk, two to Yap, and four to Belau (Del Valle, “Approaching Missionary Activity in Micronesia,” 98–99).

^ Back to text93. In Tokyo, on August 26, 1923 Father Rego was consecrated bishop and placed in charge of the vicariate. A short biography of him appeared in serialized form in the mission magazine El ángel de Carolinas right after his death in 1941 (Francis X. Hezel, “Catholic Missions in the Carolines and Marshall Islands,” Journal of Pacific History 5 [1970]: 213–27). See also F. Delgado and F. X. Hezel, “Santiago López de Rego Labarta,” in Diccionario histórico de la Compañía de Jesús: Biográfico-temático, vol. 3, eds. Charles E. O'Neill and Joaquín María Domínguez (Madrid/Rome: Institutum Historicum, S.I. and Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, 2001), 2417–18.

^ Back to text94. Hezel, “Catholic Missions in the Carolines and Marshall Islands,” 213–227.

^ Back to text95. Hezel, The Catholic Church in Micronesia, 30.

^ Back to text96. Hezel, “Jesuit Martyrs in Micronesia.”

^ Back to text97. David Atienza de Frutos, “The Mariana Islands Militia and the Establishment of the ‘pueblos de Indios’: Indigenous Agency in Guam from 1668 to 1758.” 2nd Marianas History Conference, 2013. For an essentialized perspective of Chamorro identity, see Jonathan Blas Diaz, Towards a Theology of the Chamoru: Struggle and Liberation in Oceania (Quezon City: Claretian Publications, 2010), 28–70.

Cite this page
Coello de la Rosa, Alexandre, “The Historiography of the Jesuit Presence in Oceania”, in: Jesuit Historiography Online. Consulted online on 02 March 2024 <>
First published online: 2016

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