Missionary on Guam and the Mariana Islands

Garcia, Franceso. Istoria Della Conuersione 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 Giesu. Scritta nell’ idioma Catigliano dal P. Francesco Garzia, E tradotta nell’Italiano con l’accrescimento di notitie dal padre Ambrosio Ortiz Della medesima Compagnia.

❧ In Napoli [Naples]: Per Camillo Cauallo, e Michele Luigi Mutij, 1686. In Italian. 218 × 162 mm (8.625 × 6.375 in.). 4to. [24], 663, [1] pp. Woodcut vignette on title page; head- and tail-pieces and woodcut initials; large ornamental tail-piece on verso of final leaf. Colophon dated 1687. With blank leaf c2 from the preliminary gatherings. Good. Bound in limp vellum. Edges speckled red and blue. Title page mended, but with no loss to text. Some leaves evenly browned. Lacking, as is common, an engraved frontispiece. Numerous citations, including the primary oclc record do not record a plate nor does the digitized copy at the University of Madrid.

First Italian edition, a translation and enlargement of Garcia’s (1641–1685) biography Vida y el martyrio de el Venerable Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores, first published in Madrid in 1683. Vitores founded the first Catholic church on the island of Guam and is responsible for bringing Christianity to what he called the Mariana Islands. Garcia’s biography was one of the first accounts of the Chamorro archipelago (which includes what are now known as Guam and the Northern Marianas) to be printed in Europe.

Vitores was born to a noble family and pursued the priesthood against his parent’s wishes. The first two parts of the present volume are dedicated to Vitores’s life, and include his travels in Mexico and the Philippines. It was while en route to Manila that Vitores first set foot on Guam in 1662. He returned in 1668 and directed the construction of the first Catholic church, Dulce Nombre de María, in 1669. Though initially his requests were accommodated by locals, Vitores soon wore out his welcome and the Spanish-Chamorro War broke out in 1671, lasting until 1699.

Vitores died early in this conflict, Chamorro people began resisting the missionaries. Vitores baptized the daughter of chief Matå’pang against his wishes, after which he and his companion Pedro Calungsod (a Filipino missionary) were killed. The work also makes several references to support received from the Spanish colony in the Philippines.

The Spanish edition provides a history of the Mariana Islands,” a name Vitores gave to the archipelago, up to 1681. The Italian translator, Ambrosio Ortiz, expands the work to include events up to the year 1684, adding a total of nine chapters. This includes accounts of the deaths of Manuel Solorzano, Balthasar Dubois, and Teofilo de Angelis during the siege of Hagåtña, the last major Chamorro uprising of the 17th century. Ortiz also adds letters, prayers, elegies, and biographical accounts of missionaries, such as the Austrian Karl von Borango, who succeeded Vitores. The remainder of the conflict involved the Spanish garrison subjugating the rest of the archipelago. No biography of Vitores appeared again in Spanish until 1723. Efforts to beatify Vitores were initiated in 1689, but beatification did not occur until 1985 during the papacy of John Paul II.


Sabin, J. Dictionary of Books Relating to America from its Discovery to the Present Time, 26591.

Palau y Dulcet, A. Manual del librero hispano-americano (2. ed.), 97962.


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Stock Code: 1438B17 Collection: Catalogue:


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