Three hundred sixty six years ago today a man was born who became one of history's foremost explorers of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. His name was Eusebio Francisco Kino, and a statue honoring his contributions to what became the state of Arizona now graces National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building. This little-known American hero began his life in the small town of Segno, Italy. He was educated in Austria, joined the Society of Jesus in 1665, and departed as a missionary for Mexico in 1678. For the next 33 years until his death in 1711, Father Kino dedicated his life to developing civilization in the uncharted wilderness of the new world.
Father Kino's work centered on the area then known as Pimeria Alta, which is now southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. He became a beloved missionary to the Piman Indians, fighting for their land rights and against forced labor in the silver mines of northern Mexico, despite frequent opposition from the Spanish government. Along with numerous missions Father Kino founded, he built 19 ranches and taught the natives the arts of agriculture and animal husbandry, supplying the new settlements with food and livelihood.
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Bronze of Father Kino (photo)