Antonio Inija

A depiction of Antonio Inija tied to a stake and fire set at his feet. Behind him is an apparition of Mary, whom he believed appeared to him to help him endure martyrdom.

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Don Patricio de Hinachuba, a well-educated native of Ivitachuco, a town in Apalachee Province, was known as the “penpal” of the King due to his correspondence seeking justice for the Apalachee people.In the aftermath of the English devastation of Apalachee in 1704 Don Patricio and an Apalachee remnant moved east and settled first in Abosaya, near present-day Gainesville, and then on the southern outskirts of St. Augustine. He was killed in the spring of 1706 by a band of Creek warriors seeking to destroy the remaining Apalachee Christians.


Father Manuel de Mendoza, a native of the Castilian town of Medina de Rioseco, served for 26 years in the Florida missions and was known for his generosity to the poor.

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After celebrating the vigil Mass for the feast of St. John the Baptist  June 23, 1704, Father Manuel de Mendoza, a native of the Castilian town of Medina de Rioseco, was shot and burned after he was lured out of his convent. His sacristan was also killed and the convent was set ablaze.

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Father Luis de Cáncer, a native of Barbastro, in the Kingdom of Aragón, was the first Dominican martyred in the United States. Having heard reports of unsuccessful Spanish missions to Florida and having encountered native Floridians who had been dispossessed as a result of Spanish activity there, Father Cáncer and his fellow Dominican Father Gregorio de Beteta resolved to “plant the Gospel in the land of Florida.” Father Cáncer was clubbed to death after having fallen to his knees in prayer in what was most likely present-day Safety Harbor, Florida. A remarkable relic is the diary that Father Cáncer kept in his own hand, which was completed by a fellow priest who was an eyewitness to his death.

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This image portrays when several villages in Apalachee — the region of northern Florida between the Aucilla and Ochlockonee Rivers — were brutalized. By 1647 eight native chiefs (out of more than 40) had converted and had permitted the establishment of doctrinas in their villages. But in early 1647 Apalachee was the scene of a brutal uprising where a large crowd, including the Florencia family, had assembled to celebrate the following day’s feast of the translation of the relics of St. Anthony. Three friars were killed, as were the lieutenant governor and several members of his family. Seven of the eight churches in the region were burned. In retaliation for her proclamation of the “Law of God,” Antonia — seen in the illustration above — was tied to a pillar of the bell tower of the church and her breasts and tongue were cut off. The bodies of the slain were tossed into a lake.

ORLANDO  |  The history of the Catholic faith in Florida has always included accounts of clergy and religious planting the seeds of faith on the shores and fields of the Sunshine State.

But the Church’s history is not complete without honoring the courageous examples of indigenous peoples who embraced the faith and died for it. That is one of the reasons a historical commission — that includes clergy and lay postulators from the Panhandle to Tampa Bay — has embraced the cause of canonization for the Martyrs of La Florida Mission.

Antonio Inija

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