Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MOTOLINIA, or BENAVENTE, Toribio de (mo-to-leen'-yah), Spanish missionary, born in Benavente, Zamora, late in the 15th century: died in Mexico, 9 August, 1568. He came to Mexico with the first twelve Franciscan friars in 1523. When the Indians of Tlaxcala saw them entering barefooted and travel-worn, they exclaimed " Motolinia!" On asking the signification of that word, Friar Toribio was told that it meant "poor fellow," and adopted it as his surname. He soon learned the Mexican language and was assigned to the missions of the provinces of Tapachula and Huexotzingo, where he converted and baptized thousands of Indians, and in 1529 he colonized in Iluexcotzingo the Indians that had fled from persecution in Guatemala. In 1530 he was sent to Tlaxcala, and, by order of the president, Ramirez Fuenleal, was one of the founders of the city of Puebla de los Angeles, where he chanted the first mass on 16 April. He was afterward superior of the convent of Texcoeo, and in 1548 was elected provincial of Santiago. He wrote "Doctrina Cristiana en lengua Mexicana," " De Moribus Indorum," and "Relacidn de un viaje a Guatemala." The manuscripts of these works were lost, but in the convent of Texcoco there exists a copy of the first in Spanish (Seville, 1532), with the written indorsement of Bishop Zumarraga "to Father Motolinia to be translated." The second was largely used by Father Torquemada in his historical work, and Clavijero mentions it. Of the third a large part was translated into Aztec by Friar Juan Bautista and printed under the title of "Vida y Martirio de los tres nifios nobles de Tlaxcala. Cristobal, hijo del cacique Acxotecatl, Antonio y Juan" (Mexico, 1601). Leon Pinelo also gives the name of another work of Motolinia, "Relacidn de las cosas, ritos, ceremonias e idolatria de los indios de la N. E."" but Nicolas Antonio proved that it is nothing but an extract under the title "Moribus Indorum."
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