Juan de Palafox y Mendoza
Blessed Juan de Palafox y Mendoza (June 26, 1600 – October 1, 1659) was a Spanish archbishop in the Roman Catholic Church. He also held political office in the New World. From June 10, 1642 to November 23, 1642 he was viceroy of New Spain.
 Early life
Born in Navarre, Palafox y Mendoza was the natural son of Jaime de Palafox. He was taken in by a family of millers who gave him the name "Juan" and raised him for ten years. Thereafter his father recognized him, and had him educated at Alcalá and Salamanca.
In 1626 he was a deputy of the nobility in the Cortes de Monzón, and a little later prosecutor at the Counsels of War and of the Indies.
He was ordained and became the chaplain of Maria of Austria, sister of Spanish King Philip IV of Spain. He accompanied her on her various trips around Europe.
 Ecclesiastical career
In 1639 Philip IV nominated him as bishop of Puebla de los Ángeles in Mexico (then the Spanish colony of New Spain) and Pope Urban VIII appointed him. He was consecrated at Madrid on December 27, 1639. He arrived in Veracruz on June 24, 1640, in the company of the new viceroy, Diego López Pacheco, 7th Duke of Escalona, whom he had gotten to know aboard ship. He was also named visitador (representative of the king) to investigate the two previous viceroys. He served as bishop of Puebla from 1640 to 1655 and as interim archbishop of Mexico from 1642 to 1643.
He founded the Dominican convent of Santa Inés, amended the by-laws of the seminary of San Juan, and founded the colleges of San Pedro and San Pablo. He also founded the girls school Purísima Concepción and worked diligently on completing the cathedral, which was dedicated April 18, 1649.
As bishop, Palafox y Mendoza distinguished himself by his efforts to protect the Native Americans from Spanish cruelty, forbidding any methods of conversion other than persuasion.
In this and other matters he met with the uncompromising hostility of the Jesuits, whom in 1647 he laid under an interdict. The Jesuits excommunicated him. Palafox twice, in 1647 and 1649, laid formal complaints against them at Rome. The pope, however, refused to approve his censures, and all he could obtain was a brief from Pope Innocent X (on May 14, 1648), commanding the Jesuits to respect the episcopal jurisdiction. On May 20, 1655, Palafox and the Jesuits signed an accord, but disagreements continued. In the same year the Jesuits succeeded in securing his transfer to the little see of Osma in Old Castile.
Palafox was an enthusiastic patron of the arts, and it was during his tenure in Puebla that the city became the musical center of New Spain. Composers such as Juan Gutierrez de Padilla, maestro di capilla of the cathedral under Palafox and the most famous seventeenth century composer in Mexico, brought the latest European music styles to the New World. Palafox also strongly believed in education in general. He founded the Biblioteca Palafoxiana on September 5, 1646, stocking it with five thousand books of science and philosophy.
Following the example of an earlier Spanish ecclesiastic in Mexico, Juan González de Mendoza, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza authored a book on China. His Historia de la conquista de la China por el Tartaro (History of the Conquest of China by the Tartars) reported on the conquest of the Ming China by the Manchus, based on reports that reached Mexico by the way of the Philippines. The work was first published in Spanish in Paris in 1670; a French translation appeared the same year. An English translation, whose full title was The History of the Conquest of China by the Tartars together with an Account of Several Remarkable things, Concerning the Religion, Manners, and Customs of Both Nation's, but especially the Latter, appeared in London in 1676. Palafox's work, based on hearsay, was generally less informed than De bello tartarico, an eyewitness account by the Chinese-speaking Jesuit Martino Martini.
His writings were published in 15 volumes in Madrid in 1762.
 Cause of beatification and canonization
In 1694 Charles II of Spain petitioned for his canonization; the decree allowing the introduction of the cause of beatification was approved by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726, and in 1758, under Pope Benedict XIV, the procedure for the approval of Palafox's writings was initiated. The process was continued under the Pontificates of Clement XIII and Clement XIV.
However, though the process passed through the preliminary stages, securing for Palafox the title of Servant of God, the cause was in effect blocked under Pope Pius VI. A vote by the Congregation then responsible for the cause was taken on 28 February 1777 and twenty six out of forty one prelates favored the continuation of Palafox's cause of beatification with the proclamation of a decree of heroic virtue; the decree was then submitted to Pope Pius VI for approbation; Pius VI, however, decided to suspend the final decision.
The cause thus was suspended in 1777 and remained so until 2003, when it was restared under Pope John Paul II; the question of the heroic virtue was returned to the consideration of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. On 17 January 2009 Pope Benedict XVI approved the decree of the said Congregation recognizing Palafox's heroic virtue, thus granting him the title of Venerable. On 8 January 2010 the Congregation of the Causes of Saints accepted a miracle attributed to Palafox's intercession. The decree recognizing the miracle was promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI on 27 March 2010.
Juan de Palafox was finally proclaimed blessed on 5 June 2011. The rite of beatification was presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, by mandate of Pope Benedict XVI.
 Political career
As visitador general, Bishop Palafox y Mendoza broke with Viceroy Diego López Pacheco Cabrera y Bobadilla in 1642, accusing him of being in league with Portugal. (Portugal was then in revolt against Spain.) Bishop Palafox claimed to have orders from the Crown, although he did not show them. He arrived secretly in the capital, and in the middle of the night of June 9/10, he met with the Audiencia and laid out his suspicions. He then ordered that the viceregal palace be surrounded by guards. The following morning Viceroy López Pacheco was informed that he was under arrest and that the bishop had been named archbishop of Mexico and viceroy of New Spain. His possessions were confiscated and he was held for some time before being allowed to return to Spain. In Spain he was acquitted of the charges against him.
During his brief term as viceroy, Palafox established the laws governing the University, the Audiencia, and the legal profession. Two members of the Audiencia rejected his reforms, and he suspended them from office. Palafox also raised twelve companies of militia to protect the colony against the spread of revolution from Portugal and Catalonia. He destroyed the pagan religious statues of the Indians that had been kept in the capital as trophies of the Spanish conquest.
He was succeeded as viceroy by García Sarmiento de Sotomayor, 2nd Count of Salvatierra on November 23, 1642, but continued to hold the post of visitador.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Palafox de Mendoza, Juan de". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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- Biblioteca Palafoxiana
- Catholic Encyclopedia article on Palafox
- Information at Catholic Hierarchy
- Beatificación del Obispo Juan de Palafox y Mendoza