THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 193.
The Martyrdom of the Fathers and the Lay Brother at the Mission
Source:--Relaciones de las Missiones de las P. P. Capuchinos en las
antiguas provincias espagnoles hoy Republica de Venezuela
1650-1817. Documents ineditos publicados bajo la direction
y studio de Fray Froylan de Rionegro, Seville. 1918. Report
written by the official historian of the Capuchins, Fr. Mateo de
Anguiano in I704.
Translated from the Spanish. 1704.
The Martyrdom of the Fathers, Estevan de San Felix and
Marcos de Vique and of the Lay Brother Raymundo de
These Fathers were at this time at the Mission of San
Francisco de los Arenales and had collected the Indians from
the forests and were leading them into the Holy Faith and
an ordered life.
So many Indians had been collected that the Church
was too small and they had decided to make a larger and
a better one. They had blessed the site and made the
foundations with the help of an intelligent and virtuous
Spaniard named El Alferez Tomas de Luna who was with
them and helped with his efforts and who joined them in
At this time pursuing their Christian endeavours it
happened that Father Estevan de San Felix was directing
the Indian workers and told seven Indians to bring a beam
to put it in place. At this order, one of them burst out at
once and refused to carry the beam and immediately broke
into speech which was ungrateful and faithless to God. He
worked himself up into a passion and committed terrible
blasphemies against God and the Christian religion.
It was clear that he with the others had already sold
themselves to Satan and deluded by him had planned to kill
the Fathers, their Spiritual Masters, to desert the Faith and
escape to the forests.
The Holy Father suppressed his indignation at their
contempt and mockery recognizing by the suddenness of the
outbreak what danger there was of its spreading throughout
the wholeMission so the Father censured him for his ingratitude
and exhorted him to repentance for his sins and blasphemies.
Further in the hope of preventing his diabolical outburst
and scandalous speech from corrupting the others (which
unfortunately did happen) the Father added that he knew
that the Governor of the Province was expected and was near
at that time. He was going to visit the settlements of the
Mission and without doubt would punish him severely if
he did not stop his sacriligious blasphemies.
Nothing would restrain his wicked tongue and the Indian
repeated his outburst and worked himself up into a greater
fury so as to carry out the premeditated apostasy. He begged
and urged the others to join him and lifting up a stake in
his hands struck the Father on the head.
The Father was stunned by this mortal woundwhich bled
copiously. Finding himself fatally wounded and bathed in
blood, the Father dragged himself to the Church so as to
offer himself to God and to deliver his soul into His Hands.
On his knees before the altar of Our Lady he offered his
life to Her Holy Son and he forgave from his heart those
Indians who had committed this sacriligious murder while
asking for mercy for himself and that his soul would be received
The Holy Father was engaged with such or similar prayers
when four Indians worked up into a fury exceeding that of
wild beasts, entered the Church armed with their clubs and
arrows to finish killing him. To see him so injured and
so occupied, to remember the many benefits received should
have abated their fury but calling and urging each other,
they fell upon him with unabated fury and clubbed him to
death and not content with this, filled him with arrows and
cut off his head. Seeing him thus dead, they boasted of
their cruelty and to heighten their triumph, they tied a
cord to his feet and with jeers and shouts dragged the body
to the new Church and threw it into the foundations.
After this sacriligious outburst, the Indians looked for
Father Marcos de Vique who not knowing what had happened
was in a house reading the hours, it then being between
nine and ten in the morning. Finding him there they gave
loud shouts and attacked him; a heavy cut with a club
broke his head and brought him to the ground where further
blows were rained upon him. They took the Holy Crucifix
from his hands and broke it in pieces. As he was dying they
cut off his head and tying a rope to the feet, dragged the
body with shouts and jeers and threw it into the foundation
trenches with the other.
To kill them all in accordance with their resolution,
they then sought Fray Raimundo de Figuerola at his house
followed by a large crowd of Indians. Hearing the noise
Raimundo realized what was happening and coming from the
kitchen he took a Crucifix, knelt at the door and prepared
to meet his death. From their shouts he knew that they had
killed his companions and would do the same to him. He was
attacked with rabid fury and they accorded him similar
atrocities to those committed on his companions. They
gave him many blows with their clubs, pierced him with
arrows, cut off his head and finally dragged him over and
put him with the others in the foundations of the new Church.
The same likewise they then did with the good Alferez,
Tomas de Luna whose body they also put into the foundations
and then covered all the bodies with a little earth.
The death of these faithful servitors of God took place
on the first day of December in the year 1699.
These wretched Indians were not satisfied with what was
already done but went on to commit many other execrable
sacriligious acts with increasing fury such as no Christian
could hear of without tears. They all gathered together
to sing and celebrate their success and with one consent
went to the house of these servants of God and took everything
they had, breviaries, books and papers destroying them all.
Then they went to the Church, tore down the door and the
altar, took away the vestments and opened the pyx in which
was a tabernacle but no Sacrament. They took the chalice
which contained wine and the paten and imitated the Priests
as they celebrate the Mass. They broke the Chalice and
paten into bits and hung them around their necks as
ornaments. The copes, albas and amices were cut into
pieces and divided and used as guayucos which are little
skirts which cover their private parts.
All this was done with great shouting and noise and after
such iniquities they carried to the Central Square, the three
Holy Images that were in the Church; one was of the Child
Jesus, one of His Holy Mother and one of the Father St. Francis.
Having dragged them out, they knocked them about, breaking
a hand from that of the Child Jesus, cut off the nose of that
of Our Lady and took out the eyes from that of St. Francis;
finally they were all broken in pieces.
At last they were satiated and their fury was lessened
after these horrible acts as there was nothing left to destroy.
Then they began to fear the punishment which would follow
when the Spaniards learnt what had happened. They
therefore arranged among themselves to go out along the
path and await the Governor and kill him. This they did,
hiding in a gully near the path. Suddenly they sprang out
of their ambush and killed him and others of his company.
Some were able to escape though badly wounded and these
gave warning of this attack but not of what had been done
at the Mission.
After this the wicked Indians returned and took their
goods and with the women and children went to take refuge
on a mountain some distance away. On arriving there the Devil
appeared to them pretending'to be their friend and protector
but intending their greater harm. He asked what they were
doing there as all would certainly be lost. He told them to
leave that place at once and go to the place he advised which
is the small island at Punta Galera where they could defend
themselves against the Christians. Having spoken thus the
The Indians then marched at once to the place the Devil
mentioned. All this was intended for their greater ruin and
for new crimes by which they would lose their souls as we shall
From the information given by the companions of the
Governor who had escaped, the people of the Town of Oruna
realized that the Indians of the Mission of San Francisco
de los Arenales were the authors of this treason and they
did not doubt that they had also killed the Fathers there
before lying in wait for the Governor and his party.
The Cabildo at once ordered that people should go
forthwith to Arenales to seek and punish these Indians. This
expedition immediately proceeded and got into touch with
them but could not take any prisoners and was only able to
kill twenty by shooting; the first to fall was the Indian who
had started all these cruelties and crimes against God. The
rest fled and followed their women and children who were
going to take refuge at the place mentioned by the Devil
which is an island near the shore of the Cocal where there
is a lake by the sea. Here they settled in safety and well
secured so far as they could judge.
The Cabildo now ordered General Antonio de la Cruz
who was an Indian, to go with 1oo Christian Indians from
the Missions to find and capture the fugitives. They followed
these rebels and fought with them on the Cocal and drove
them onto Punta Galera.
Here the Indians found themselves surrounded by water
and by their enemies on land and as there was no escape,
they had to die or submit to capture. Some of the women
were so cruel and fierce that they tore their children from
the breast and threw them into the sea as also the older children
so that they should drown and then following themselves
to this death. Many of the men did likewise, dying
All the rest were taken prisoner and brought to the Town
of San Josef where they were put to the question by torture.
They declared what there was to know and were punished
according to their guilt. Four of these as ringleaders were
hanged and others, 6I in all, were shot. The women and
children were condemned to slavery.
This was the disastrous end of these miserable apostates
who had abandoned the Faith and committed such sacriligious
With all these punishments, the appointment of a new
Governor and the many other incidents which took place,
the people of Trinidad did not set out to recover the bodies
of these Venerable Martyrs until a year and a half had passed
knowing that the bodies were all together and buried in
consecrated land in the foundations of the new Church.
Thus from the I st of December, 1699, till the 15th of April, 1701,
the bodies were left there not without however, the hope of
the Divine Favour that Our Lord might manifest the great
merit of His servants and how precious their death had been
in His Divine Eyes.
The Cabildo and the Town united in arranging the
translation of these bones of the Holy men. On the day
settled, the new Governor, the Ecclesiastics and many of the
principal people met at San Francisco de los Arenales bringing
coffins with them. They arrived at the place and found it
all deserted and waste. They went all over the ground
finding signs of all that had happened and with the assistance
of witnesses established the sites where each had been killed.
They found with surprise and astonishment that the blood
shed had remained fresh and red after so long a time just
as if it had recently been shed.
This was a wonderful occurrence but they found an even
greater when they arrived at the foundations of the Church.
They had expected to find only the bones but they found
the whole bodies without a single sign of corruption or any
odour, as though they had just been killed. More miraculous
still when they began to move the bodies, fresh blood began
to ooze from all the wounds. Astonished at these marvels,
they all gave thanks to God, placed the bodies in the coffins
and with joy and satisfaction returned to the town.
The bodies were taken to the principal Church and for
nine days remained lying there in state where they provided
to the Christian Piety of the faithful of this Island an
exceptional opportunity of praising God. During this Novena
various addresses on their virtues and martyrdom were
delivered in which the fervour of the orators moved their
hearers to tears now of joy and now of compassion. During
all this time there was no change of any kind in the bodies
which retained all their freshness as before.
When the time for burial arrived, there was a pious dispute
between the Fathers of the Convent of Our Father, St. Francis,
and the Eccesiastic Cabildo, each claiming the honour of
burial in their Church. The reasons on both sides having
been put forth, it was agreed that burial should take place
in the Church in which they had lain. This was to the
interests of all and was done.
These servants of God were men of great virtues and
exemplary lives. In recording all their self sacrificing deeds
before martyrdom it would be easy to fill a large volume.
Added to this are the many sovereign favours received from
God and His Very Holy Mother as also the many miracles
vouchsafed to their prayers.
To Fray Raimundo de Figuerola, God revealed his
martyrdom before it occurred. This he told to the Fathers
saying confidently that he would not die alone. This is
what actually occurred.