Francisco María Piccolo

Francisco María Piccolo (Francesco Maria Piccolo, Francisco Pícolo) (1654-1729) was one of the first Jesuit missionaries in Baja California Sur, Mexico. His letters and reports are important sources for the ethnography and early history of the peninsula.

Piccolo was born in Palermo, Sicily. He served as a Jesuit missionary for 13 years among the Tarahumara of Chihuahua before being assigned to the new Baja California mission field. Eusebio Francisco Kino, the original driving force behind the Jesuit effort, was unable to participate when his project finally became a reality. As a consequence, Juan Maria Salvatierra was the lone missionary in establishing Loreto among its Monqui inhabitants in 1697. Piccolo crossed the Gulf of California to be Salvatierra's assistant about a month later.

Piccolo founded the second Baja California mission, San Francisco Javier, among the Cochimí in 1699 and served there until 1703, with a hiatus during which he represented the Baja California interests of the Jesuits in Mexico City. He was assigned to duties as "visitador" for the Jesuit missions in Sonora in 1705-1709, but he returned to Baja California and served at Mulegé and Loreto until his death in 1729.

His "Informe" or report of 1702, published in Mexico City, was an influential early account of the peninsular missions, although its optimism about the potential of Baja California was something of an embarrassment to later Jesuit apologists. He conducted several exploratory trips seeking neophytes and future mission sites, including journeys to what would later be Mulegé, La Purísima and San Ignacio. His accounts of these travels contain additional ethnographic information on the Cochimí.

References

Burrus, Ernest J. 1984. "Jesuit Relations: Baja California, 1716-1762". Dawson's Book Shop, Los Angeles.

Crosby, Harry W. 1994. "Antigua California: Mission and Colony on the Peninsular Frontier, 1697-1768". University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Dunne, Peter Masten. 1952. "Black Robes in Lower California". University of California Press, Berkeley.

Piccolo, Francisco María. 1962. "Informe del estado de la nueva cristiandad de California". Edited by Ernest J. Burrus. José Porrúa Turanzas, Madrid.

Piccolo, Francisco María. 1967. "Informe on the New Province of California, 1702". Edited by George P. Hammond. Dawson's Book Shop, Los Angeles.


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