José González Rubio

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José González Rubio
Born José Norberto Francisco González Rubio
June 6, 1804
Guadalajara, Mexico
Died November 2, 1875(1875-11-02) (aged 71)
Mission Santa Barbara, California
Nationality Spanish (1804–1821, Mexican independence), Mexican (1821–1848), American (1848- until his death, in 1875)
Occupation friar

José Norberto Francisco González Rubio, O.F.M., (June 6, 1804 – November 2, 1875) was a Roman Catholic friar prominent in the early history of California. His life encompassed the transition from Spanish colonial, to Mexican, and finally, American society.


Early life[edit]

González Rubio was born in Guadalajara, New Spain, on June 6, 1804. His Spanish-born parents were José María González Rubio and Manuela Gutiérrez. He had at least two siblings.

Upon completing his primary education, González Rubio studied at the Seminario Conciliar of Guadalajara. He continued at the University of Guadalajara where he graduated on July 20, 1820 with a degree in philosophy. In 1821, Mexico gained its independence from Spain. In 1824, González Rubio applied to the Colegio de Nuestra Señora de Zapopan, seeking admission to the Franciscan Order. He began his novitiate, and was accepted into the Order on January 10, 1825 with the religious name, José María de Jesús, and the title of Fray (Friar).

Missions in California[edit]

On February 13, 1833, Friar González Rubio was named to replace Father Narciso Durán at the Mission San José in California, in keeping with a policy of replacing Spanish-born clergy with those born in Mexico. He arrived at the Mission two months later to begin his new duties. During his tenure, the Mexican government began to implement a policy of secularization of the California missions.

In 1842, González Rubio was transferred to the Mission Santa Barbara, eventually becoming its chief administrator. Father González Rubio served as the Apostolic administrator of the Diocese of the Two Californias after bishop Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno's death in 1846 until bishop Joseph Alemany's appointment as Bishop of Monterey in 1850.[1]

González Rubio continued to serve as the administrator of Mission Santa Barbara, and during this time came into conflict with the presiding bishop of the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles, Bishop Thaddeus Amat, over the question of jurisdiction over the Mission. González Rubio argued that the Mission was rightfully under the Franciscan order, and not the diocese. During this dispute, the United States annexed California as a result of the Mexican American War. On March 18, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln restored the California missions to the Catholic Church. The deed to Mission Santa Barbara was given to the diocese, and not the Franciscans. González Rubio protested, but Bishop Amat refused to give up the deed to the Mission. However, in 1925, Bishop John J. Cantwell did hand the deed over to the Franciscans at Mission Santa Barbara.

Padre González Rubio lived long enough to become the oldest survivor of the early California missionaries, dying on November 2, 1875 at Mission Santa Barbara in California where he is interred.


  1. ^ "Diocese of Monterey in California". Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  • Hispanic Catholicism in transitional California: the life of José González Rubio, O.F.M. (1804-1875), by Michael Charles Neri, published 1997 by the Academy of American Franciscan History (v.14, history monograph series).

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