With these two volumes Ernest J. Burrus, S.J., begins the publication of a new series which is to include both documents and essays in English related to the colonial religious history of the Americas. The list of proposed volumes, given in the introductory note to the first volume, indicates that most of the volumes are to be devoted to the history of the colonial Jesuit missions, especially those of Mexico. A significant departure from this Jesuit theme was to have been the inclusion of the university lectures by the Augustinian Alonso de la Vera Cruz as the second volume of the series. But the second volume as it now appears is made up of documents on the expulsion of the Jesuits from Lower California. As the volume contains no explanation of the change, the reader is left wondering whether the original plan of volumes is to be followed at all.
The body of the first volume is composed of letters from and about Eusebio Francisco Kino, the Jesuit who later became famous as a pioneering missionary in northern Sonora and southern Arizona, to María de Guadalupe de Lencastre, Duchess of Aveiro, an outstanding benefactress of the missions in the Orient and Oceania. The letters were written between 1680, when Kino was in Cádiz, and 1687, when he was on his way to the Sonoran missions. They contain valuable information on his early career and on the first efforts of the Jesuits to establish missions in Lower California. As introductory material to this volume Burrus supplies a short biographical sketch of Kino, a historical introduction to the letters, a biographical sketch of the duchess, and a listing of letters and documents from and to her, all of which are briefly summarized.
The principal item in the second volume recounts the expulsion of the Jesuits from Lower California in 1767-1768. Its author is Benno Ducrue, superior of the Jesuits in the peninsula at the time of the expulsion. Ducrue’s account was first published in Latin (Nürnberg, 1784). Burrus republishes the Latin text and an English translation on facing pages. The introduction presents a very brief summary of Jesuit activities in Lower California, brief biographies of Ducrue and the seventeen other Jesuits who were directly involved in the work of the California missions at the time of the expulsion, a chronological list of the Lower California missions, and a calendar of events mentioned in Ducrue’s account. Ducrue’s narrative is supplemented by an appendix of twelve other documents.
These volumes, like all of Burrus’ works, are carefully researched and annotated. His care in indicating previous publication of documents, however, seems to have gone awry in regard to the letter of Junípero Serra of March 2, 1768, in the Ducrue volume. Here he twice expresses gratitude to Cardinal McIntyre for permission to publish, but the letter, taken from another source, appeared as Item 6 in Tibesar’s edition of Serra’s writings.
In general, except for an understandable pro-Jesuit slant, the introductions and the translations are well done. If the series is continued in this style, it will be a valuable contribution to the documentation available in English for the religious history of colonial America.