padre kino

Eusebio Kino


Eusebio Francisco Kino S.J. (August 10, 1644March 15, 1711) was a Catholic priest who became famous in what is now northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States (primarily Sonora and Arizona) for his exploration of the region and for his work to Christianize the indigenous Native American population, including primarily the Sobaipuri and other Upper Piman groups. He proved that Baja California is not an island by leading an overland expedition there from Arizona. He established over 20 missions and visitas ("country chapels"), and was known for his ability to create relationships between indigenous peoples and the religious institutions he represented.


Kino was born Eusebio Francesco Chini on August 10, 1645 in Segno, today frazione of Taio, a village in the Val di Non in the Bishopric of Trent now in present-day Italy. After recuperating from a serious illness, Kino joined the Society of Jesus on November 20, 1665. Although he wanted to go to the Orient, he was ordered to establish a mission on the northern frontier of New Spain (today's northern Sonora and southern Arizona). Father Kino departed Spain in 1681 with that purpose in mind. He led the Atondo expedition to lower California. After a drought in 1685, Kino was forced back to Mexico City.

In addition to his pastoral activities as a missionary, Eusebio Kino also practiced other crafts, and was an expert astronomer, mathematician and cartographer, who drew the first accurate maps of Pimería Alta, the Gulf of California and Baja California. Father Kino enjoyed making model ships out of wood. His knowledge of maps and ships led him to believe that Mexican Indians could easily access California by sea, a view that was taken with skepticism by Mexico City missionaries. When Father Kino proposed that a boat be made and pushed across the Sonoran desert and to the Mexican west coast, a controversy arose, as many of his co-missionares questioned Father Kino's mental abilities.

Father Kino arrived in Sonora in 1687 to work with the Pima, and he quickly established the first Catholic church in that province. Kino traveled across Northern Mexico and to California and Arizona. Roads were built to connect previously inaccessible areas. His many expeditions on horseback covered over 50,000 square miles (130,000 km²), during which he mapped an area 200 miles (300 km) long and 250 miles (400 km) wide, and deduced that Lower California was a peninsula. Up until Kino's arrival in Sonora, it was believed that Baja California, like Isla de Mujeres, was an island and not a peninsula that was actually attached to the North American continent. Father Kino led the first ground expedition to Baja California, proving that the previous assumption about that area was wrong. A fervent believer in the idea that Indians needed better ways of living, Kino was important in the economic growth of Sonora at the time, teaching the Indians the basics of farming and bringing them farm animals and seeds.

One fact that is widely known about Kino is that he fought hard for the Sonoran Indians, opposing the hard labor in silver mines that the Spaniards had imposed on them. This also caused great controversy among his co-missionares, many of whom acted according to the laws imposed by Spain on their new territory. Father Kino was also a writer, authoring books on religion, astronomy and maps. He built missions extending from the interior of Sonora 150 miles (240 km) northeast to San Xavier del Bac, still standing and functioning as a Catholic parish near Tucson. He constructed 19 rancheras, which supplied cattle to new settlements. He was also instrumental in the return of the Jesuits to California in 1697.

Father Kino remained among his missions until his death in 1711. He died in the city of Magdalena de Kino, Mexico.


Father Kino has been honored both in Mexico and the United States, with various towns, streets, monuments, and geographic features named after him. In 1965, a statue of Father Kino was donated to the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall collection, one of two statues representing Arizona. Another statue of him stands above Kino Parkway, a major thoroughfare in Tucson.

The towns of Bahía Kino and Magdalena de Kino in Sonora are named in his honor.

Padre Kino is also the name of Mexico's best known table wine.


  • Seymour, Deni J., 1989 The Dynamics of Sobaipuri Settlement in the Eastern Pimeria Alta. Journal of the Southwest 31(2):205-222.
  • Seymour, Deni J., 1997 Finding History in the Archaeological Record: The Upper Piman Settlement of Guevavi. Kiva 62(3):245-260.
  • Seymour, Deni J., 2003 Sobaipuri-Pima Occupation in the Upper San Pedro Valley: San Pablo de Quiburi. New Mexico Historical Review 78(2):147-166.
  • Seymour, Deni J., 2007 Delicate Diplomacy on a Restless Frontier: Seventeenth-Century Sobaipuri Social And Economic Relations in Northwestern New Spain, Part I. New Mexico Historical Review, Volume 82, no. 4.
  • Seymour, Deni J., 2007 A Syndetic Approach To Identification Of The Historic Mission Site Of San Cayetano Del Tumacácori. International Journal of Historical Archaeology, Vol. 11(3).
  • Seymour, Deni J., 2008a Delicate Diplomacy on a Restless Frontier: Seventeenth-Century Sobaipuri Social And Economic Relations in Northwestern New Spain, Part II. New Mexico Historical Review, Volume 83, no. 2.
  • Seymour, Deni J., 2008 Father Kino’s 'Neat Little House and Church' at Guevavi. Journal of the Southwest 50(4)(Winter).

Portions of this biography are courtesy National Statuary Hall.

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