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Antonio Margil

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Born at Valencia, Spain, 18 August, 1657; died at Mexico, 6 Aug., 1726. He entered the Franciscan Order in his native city on 22 April, 1673. After his ordination to the priesthood he volunteered for the Indian missions in America, and arrived at Vera Cruz on 6 June, 1683. He was stationed at the famous missionary college of Santa Cruz, Querétaro, but was generally engaged in reaching missions all over the country, in Yucatán, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and especially in Guatemala, where he merited the name of Apostle of Guatemala. He always walked barefooted, without sandals, fasted every day in the year, never used meat or fish, and applied the discipline as well as other instruments of penance to himself unmercifully. He slept very little, but passed in prayer the greater part of the night, as well as the time allotted for the siesta . The result was that his efforts for the salvation of Indians and colonists were crowned with extraordinary success. On 25 June, 1706, he was appointed first guardian of the newly-erected missionary college of Guadalupe, Zacatecas. In 1716 he led a band of three fathers and two lay-brothers into Texas, and founded the missions of Guadalupe among the Nacogdoches, Dolores among the Ays, and San Miguel among the Adays. When the French destroyed these missions, Father Margil withdrew to the Rio San Antonio, and remained near the present city of San Antonio for more than a year. He then returned with his friars to the scene of his former activity, restored the missions, and even gave his attention to the French settlers in Louisiana. In 1722 he was elected guardian of his college and compelled to leave his beloved Indians. At the close of his term of office he resumed missionary work in Mexico. He died at the capital in the famous Convento Grande de San Francisco, in the odour of sanctity. Gregory XVI in 1836 declared Father Antonio Margil's virtues heroic.

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