José Torrubia

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José Torrubia was a Spanish Catholic missionary, scientist and author. As a paleontologist, he was one of the very first religious thinkers to note and admit the existence of fossils as remains of ancient animals.

Biography and works[edit]

He was born towards the end of the seventeenth century at Granada, Spain; died in 1768 in the monastery of Aracoeli. He entered the order of St. Peter of Alcántara at Granada.

In the Philippine Islands, whither he had gone as missionary and as secretary to Foguéras, the Spanish colonial commissioner-general of Mexico, he was imprisoned for four months, as a result of opposition on the part of the religious orders to reforms attempted by the commissioner. He returned to Cadiz and thence went to Rome, where he withdrew from the order of St. Peter and became a Franciscan. In 1732 he was again in the Philippine Islands as superior of a convent. He travelled in America and Asia, remaining for a time at Canton, China. In 1750 he returned to Spain, whence he made three trips to Rome.

As linguist, scientist, collector of fossils and of books, writer on historical, political and religious subjects, Torrubia was held in high esteem in Spain and at Rome, and by none more so that by Pope Benedict XIV. Noted scientists made a point of visiting him.


  • Roman Ceremonial of the Discalced Religious of St. Francis in the Province of St. Gregory in the Philippines (Manila, 1728)
  • Disertacion histórico-politico-geográfica de las islas Filipinas (Madrid, 1736, 1753)
  • Disertación histórica geográfica sobre la América del Sur (Madrid, 1742)
  • Descripción poética de la planta Gia que se halla en los campos de la Habana (1744)
  • a poem against Free-masonry (Madrid, 1752)
  • Aparato para la historia natural de la Nueva España (1754)
  • Introducción a la historia natural de España (Madrid, 1754; German tr., Halle, 1773; Italian translation of a part printed under his direction at Rome with the title La gigantologia española; second volume, on insects, never printed)
  • History of the Seraphic order (Rome, 1756).

See also[edit]



  • Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1889). "Torrubia, José" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainPaul H. Linehan (1913). "José Torrubia" . In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.