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PLAZA, Manuel (plah'-thah), Peruvian missionary, born in Riobamba, 1 January, 1772; died in Lima about 1845. He entered the Franciscan convent of Quite, was ordained priest at the age of twenty-three years, and immediately afterward set out as a missionary for the river Nape. After a year he went to the missions of Ucayali and settled in Sarayacu, where he soon gained the esteem of the Indians and founded two new villages. There he remained till 1814, when the viceroy, Jose de Abascal, fearing the success of the revolution, appointed him to open another outlet to Europe by way of Comas and Chanchamayo. He explored the country three months, and, after giving an account of his commission to the viceroy, returned to Sarayacu and continued his missions till 1821, when the Spanish missionaries fled to Brazil, and he was left alone among the savages. He suffered greatly till 1828, when he found his way to Quite, and was well received by the bishop and General Bolivar, who provided him with abundant means, and ordered him to return to his missions. After an exploration of the rivers of the interior by a Peruvian commission, the government resolved to assist the efforts of Father Plaza, and the latter came to Lima in 1845. Congress, on 24 May, passed an act that provided a yearly subvention for the missions, and Plaza planned to return in 1846, but died before he could make the journey, and his manuscripts were lost.
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