Skip to content

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

José de Acosta

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

The son of well-to-do and respected parents, born at Medina del Campo in Spain, 1540; died at Salamanca, 15 February, 1600. He became a novice in the Society of Jesus at the age of thirteen at the place of his birth. Four of his brothers successively joined the same order. Before leaving Spain, he was lecturer in theology at Ocana, and in April, 1569, was sent to Lima, Peru, where the Jesuits had been established in the proceeding year. At Lima, Acosta again occupied the chair of theology ; his fame as an orator had proceeded him. In 1571 he went to Cuzco as a visitor of the college of the Jesuits then recently founded. Returning to Lima three years later, to again fill the chair of theology, he was elected provincial in 1576. He founded a number of colleges, among them those of Arequipa, Potose, Chuquisaca, Panama, and La Paz, but met with considerable opposition from the viceroy, Francisco de Toledo. His official duties obliged him to investigate personally a very extensive range of territory, so that he acquired a practical knowledge of the vast province, and of its aboriginal inhabitants. At the provincial council of 1582, at Lima, Acosta played a very important part. Called to Spain by the King in 1585, he was detained in Mexico, where he dedicated himself to studies of the country and people; returning to Europe, he filled the chair of theology at the Roman college in 1594, as well as other important positions. At the time of his death, he was rector of the college at Salamanca.

FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything

Few members of the Society of Jesus in the sixteenth century have been so uniformly eulogized as Father Acosta. Independently of his private character, his learning and the philosophic spirit pervading his works attracted the widest attention in learned circles. Translations of his works exist in many languages of Europe, while the naturalists of the eighteenth century praise his knowledge of the flora of western South America. Aside from his publication of the proceedings of the provincial councils of 1567 and 1583, and several works of exclusively theological import, Acosta is best known as writer through the "De Natura Novi Orbis." "De promulgatione Evangelii apud Barbaros, sive De Procuranda Indorum salute", and above all, the "Historia natural y moral de las Indias." The first two appeared at Salamanca in 1588, the last at Seville in 1590, and was soon after its publication translated into various languages. It is chiefly the "Historia natural y moral " that has established the reputation of Acosta. In a form more concise than that employed by his predecessors, Gomara and Oviedo, he treats the natural and philosophic history of the New World from a broader point of view. Much of what he says is of necessity erroneous, because it is influenced by the standard of knowledge of his time ; but his criticisms are remarkable, while always dignified. He reflects the scientific errors of the period in which he lived, but with hints of a more advanced understanding. As far as the work of the Church among the Indians is concerned, the "De procurandâ Indorum salute" is perhaps more valuable than the "Historia," because it shows the standpoint from which efforts at civilizing the aborigines should be undertaken. That standpoint indicates no common perception of the true nature of the Indian, and of the methods of approaching him for his own benefit.

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >



Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

To all our readers, Please don't scroll past this.

Deacon Keith Fournier Today, we humbly ask you to defend Catholic Online's independence. 98% of our readers don't give; they simply look the other way. If you donate just $5.00, or whatever you can, Catholic Online could keep thriving for years. Most people donate because Catholic Online is useful. If Catholic Online has given you $5.00 worth of knowledge this year, take a minute to donate. Show the volunteers who bring you reliable, Catholic information that their work matters. If you are one of our rare donors, you have our gratitude and we warmly thank you. Help Now >
Free Online Catholic Classes for Anyone, Anywhere - Click Here

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!