José María de Zalvidea
He was born at Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain, and became a Franciscan at the convent of San Mames, Cantabria, 13 December 1798. He joined the College of San Fernando de Mexico in 1804 and became a missionary to the California Native Americans in August 1805.
He served at Mission San Fernando Rey de España until 1806, at Mission San Gabriel Arcángel until 1826, at Mission San Juan Capistrano until 1842, and at Mission San Luis Rey de Francia until his death. He was credited as being a "wise manager of the mission temporalities." Under his administration, Mission San Gabriel reached its highest prosperity.
From 19 July to 14 August 1806, Father Zalvidea accompanied an expedition from Santa Barbara east and then south to San Gabriel in search of new mission sites, meanwhile baptizing many dying people. He was well versed in the languages of the Native Americans. While his superiors regarded him as one of the best and most zealous of friars, the people looked upon him as a saint. "There is no evidence", says Bancroft, "that he ever had an enemy, or said an unkind word to any man." Even when quite old, Father Zalvidea refused to avail himself of the privilege of retiring, because there would be no one to take his place, for the Mexican Government had declined to let any but Mexicans serve in the missions. Like all the other missionaries he would not approve of the methods of the Mexican politicians by swearing allegiance, refusing to do so on the grounds that he did not meddle with politics, but he offered to swear obedience in everything not against conscience.
- The Old Franciscan Missions of California (Illustrated Edition) - Page 81 George Wharton James - 2009 "At this time, and since 1806, Padre José María Zalvidea, that strict martinet of padres, was in charge, and he brought the Mission up to its highest state of efficiency. He it was who began the erection of the stone church that now ..."
- Critica: a journal of critical essays University of California, San Diego. Chicano Studies Program, University of California, San Diego. Third World Studies - 1994 "Muy bueno, muy cariñoso, muy caritativo, tanto él como su compañero Fray José María de Zalvidea trataban muy bien a los indios, y los dos eran muy queridos por la gente de razón y por los neófitos y demás indios."
- Los Angeles Area Missions - Page 28 Dianne M. MacMillan - 2007 "The new priest, Father José María Zalvidea, was a strict man. He gave some neophytes the job of beating those who didn't work hard enough. Soon San Gabriel earned the nickname the Pride of the Missions. It ran a respected winery."
- Historic Kern County: An Illustrated History of Bakersfield Page 8 Chris Brewer, Kern County Museum Foundation, Kern County Museum - 2001 "The work of his diarist, Father José María Zalvidea, is important as it describes the trek through the Santa lnez area and Cuyama Valley into the Buena Vista Lake area, during a wet year when Buena Vista Lake and Kern Lake were joined."