Global Christianity The Paraguay Mission
(1606 - 1768)
Global Christianity

Villages organized by Jesuits to evangelize Native Americans, but destroyed by Portuguese and Spanish settlers.

"Christ on the Cross"
by Roger van der Weyden

Missionaries in Latin America were often in conflict with settlers, because the settlers wanted to enslave the native peoples and the missionaries opposed this. Members of the Society of Jesus therefore decided to pursue missions in very remote areas where Europeans had not yet penetrated. Native American villages were organized into towns, each with its own church, plaza, living quarters, and workshops. These missions were tightly controlled by the Jesuits, who sought to transform the life of native peoples. By 173l an estimated 140,000 people lived in these villages. Native Americans who rejected the Jesuit program sometimes attacked the villages, but the worst opposition came from Portuguese and Spanish settlers, who sought to destroy the missions. Failing to drive the Jesuits away from the villages, the settlers then accused the Jesuits of forming an independent state. These charges added to the pressure for Jesuit reductions. In 1667 all Jesuits were ordered to leave Spanish territories. Soon Spanish and Portuguese slave hunters destroyed the villages and captured and sold many of the people.

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Photo - Corel. Used by permission.