Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BETANZOS, Domingo de (bay-tan'-thos), Spanish missionary, born in Leon, Spain; died in Valladolid, in August 1549. He was educated at the University of Salamanca, and spent whatever time he could spare from his studies in visiting the hospitals and in other charitable offices. At the end of his course he sold his possessions, distributed the proceeds among the poor, and begged his way to a hermitage in Catalonia.. He led a solitary life for some months, and then set out for Rome, to consult the pope on his future vocation. From Rome he went to the island of Ponzo, near Naples, where he lived for five years, seeing nobody but a fisherman who brought him the vegetables that formed his sole support. He finally became a Dominican in the convent of St. Stephen, Salamanta, and was sent to Santo Domingo. After studying the language of the natives, he devoted himself to their conversion. He excited the hostility of the Spaniards by his efforts to protect the Indians from their cruelty. After a stay of twelve years in Santo Domingo he was summoned to 5iexico, where the mission of the Dominicans was almost ruined, all its members having died except two. The preaching of Father de Betanzos was so effective with several young Spaniards, who had come to America. in search of riches, that he soon had a large number of novices. He founded a. convent of his order in the city of Mexico, and afterward, as every vessel that touched on the coast afforded him recruits, was able to found others in the cities of Tlascala, Puebla, and Oaxaca. Satisfied that his followers would complete his work in Mexico, he set out on a journey of 300 miles for Guatemala, with two companions, traveling on foot. He did not remain long in Guatemala. haying been recalled to Mexico in 1530; but during his stay he built a Church and convent and made such an impression upon the natives that his name was afterward a protection to other missionaries. The reason of his recall was a claim set up by the Dominican province of Santo Domingo to jurisdiction over the convents of the order in Mexico. Father de Betanzos was sent to Rome to defend the rights of the province of Mexico, was successful, and on his return was elected the first provincial of the province of St. James of Mexico. His next step was to establish a College for the study of the Indian dialects, which varied not only in different provinces, but in different villages. He also erected schools in the pueblos with the same object. He was named bishop of Guatemala, but declined the appointment. His death occurred as he was returning from Rome, where he had gone on a mission connected with the affairs of his order.
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