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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > B > Alonzo de Barcena

Alonzo de Barcena

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(Also Barzana).

A native of Bacza in Andalusia, Spain, b. 1528; d. at Cuzco, Peru, 15 January, 1598. He became a Jesuit in 1565, and went to Paris in 1569. He was first destined for the missions of Heartier, whence he was ordered (1577) to Juli, on the shores of Lake Titicaca in Southern Peru. He became one of the founders of this important mission. Barcena remained in Central Bolivia for eleven years, when the Provincial Atienza sent him to Tucuman in Argentina. His work among the various tribes of that region and of Paraguay continued until 1693, when he was made Commissary of the Inquisition in those provinces. Exhausted physically by his long and arduous labors, Barcena died at Cuzco in Peru. He is credited with having had a practical knowledge of eleven Indian languages and with having written grammars, vocabularies, catechisms in most of them. These manuscripts are possibly still in the archives of Lima. Only one of his writings is known to have been published: a letter full of important ethnographic and linguistic detail, on the Indians of Tucuman, on the Calchaquis, and others. The letter (see below) published in 1885, is dated 8 September, 1594, at Asunción in Paraguay, and is addressed to the Provincial John Sebastian.


Calancha, Coronica moralizada (Lima, 1638), I; Lozano, historia de la Compania de la Jesus de la provincia del Paraguay (Madrid, 1755); Idem, Descripcion del Gran Chaco (Cordova, 1733); Lorenzo Hervas, Catalogo delle Lingue conoscuiti e noticia della loro affinita e diversita (Foligno, 1784); Charlevoix, Historie du Paraguay (Paris, 1757); Saldamandando, Antiquos Jesuitas del Peru (Lima, 1882); Relaciones geograficas de Indias (Madrid, 1885), II, contains the Carta de P. Alonso de Barzana, de la Compania de Jesus al P. Juan Sebastian, su Provincial, the letter mentioned above (Appendix 30, III); Ludewig, The Literature of American Aboriginal Indians (London, 1858), 76, mentions a work of Father Barcena under the title of Lexica et praecepta grammatica, item liber confessionis et precum in quinque Indorum Linguis (Peru, 1590); it is probably one of the manuscripts alluded to above. The title is taken from Southwell, Bibliotheca Societatis Jesu (Rome, 1676).

About this page

APA citation. Bandelier, A.F. (1907). Alonzo de Barcena. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Bandelier, Adolph Francis. "Alonzo de Barcena." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. <>.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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