The following text is taken from our book, From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America.

The Bishop and the Men of Blood

Fray Juan de Zumárraga was troubled. Being a bishop is never easy, but being the bishop of New Spain (it seemed) was a task beyond the power of any man. Indeed, Fray Juan had not wanted to be bishop. For over 30 years he had lived the quiet life of a Franciscan friar. He had prayed and fasted; he had said Mass, administered the sacraments, and preached to the people. Then one fatal day, in 1527, King Charles I had stopped at the Franciscan convent in Valladolid (vah•yeh•duh•LEE), in Spain. The king was so impressed by Fray Juan, who directed the life of the convent, that he wanted him to serve as the first bishop of New Spain. Fray Juan, the son of poor parents, did not think himself worthy of that great office; but his religious superior told him that he had to obey King Charles. So it was that one year later, Fray Juan found himself in the city of Mexico, the bishop of pagans, new Christian converts, and half civilized Spanish adventurers. 

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