Historical Characters

San Francisco Solano, son of Mateo Sánchez and Ana Ximénez, Franciscan evangelizer of America, was born in Montilla in March 1549, in Calle Sotollón, and died in Lima on July 14, 1610. The exact date of his death and birth are not known, although the date of his baptism was the 10th  of March of 1549, in  Santiago Church, where its batism certificate is conserved. Given that at that time people were baptized a few days after being born, is why some authors states  that it was on March 5th  when he was born.

He started his studies found his religious vocation at the Jesuits school and he entered the Franciscan convent of San Lorenzo (Montilla), where he made the novitiate and took the habit in 1569. Moved to the convent of the Recolección de Santa María de Loreto (Seville) to complete his education, he studied philosophy and theology. There he was ordained and celebrated his first Mass on October 4, 1576. His interest about caring about the souls pushes him to preach, initiating this ministry in Montilla. By that time, he already showed his interest about music, a hobby that grew being a choir vicar in Loreto. He specially played the violin.

From Montilla he continued his missionary journey through the province.. He was master of novices in the convent of La Arruzafa (Córdoba, 1581). In 1583 he was in Montoro helping those affected by the plague and even contracting the disease. In 1586 he was guardian at San Francisco del Monte (Adamuz, Córdoba). At this point of his life, almost all the towns of Cordoba had heard his message, growing his fame day by day. During his short stay (1587) in the convent of San Luis el Real (where he was received with great admiration), the idea of being missionary to distant lands was already in his mind.

He requested to move to Africa, although this request was denied in 1589 he managed to figure in the great group of Franciscans who, at the request of Felipe II, emigrated to evangelize the New World. He embarked in Sanlúcar de Barrameda on February 28, 1589 and arrived to America in 1590. Colombia, Panama, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, Peru and many other places heard his sermons, finally settling in the capital of the ancient Inca Empire, where he became  defender of the Indians until his death. His remains are preserved in Lima. The supernatural facts attributed to him in life and his dedication to others motivated his beatification in Rome by Clement X (January 25, 1675) and his canonization by Benedict XIII (December 27, 1726). It was the official endorsement of the Church. However, a long time before Rome raised him to the altars, he was already recognized as patron of numerous American towns and a benefactor of his native city. Montilla publicly voted his patronage thanks to the joint management of the Marquises of Priego and the secular and ecclesiastical authorities on March 14, 1647. His bull was finally approved by Benedict XIV in 1745.

Juan de Ávila was born in Almodóvar del Campo (Ciudad Real), on January 6th , 1500. He was still very young when he went to Salamanca, where he studied Law; He went back to his house where he learnt about sacrifices and  all the virtues. Later he travelled to Alcalá where he studies Philosophy and Theology. He became a great humanist. When he became a priest, he arrives in Seville to travel to America but he was convinced by the archbishop, to stay in Andalusia where he preached until deserving the nickname of “Apostle of Andalusia”. Not only in life, but also after his death, with his letters, talks, sermons and writings, full of evangelical anointing, he has powerfully influenced the history of Spanish and universal spirituality.

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