South America
History and the Dominicans

A brief description.

The territory of the Argentine republic was originally inhabited by Indians tribes of fierce disposition, who were "reduced" to civilization through the Catholic religion. The missions founded in these regions were called "Reducciones" (reductions) by the Spaniards to convey the idea that these establishments were intended to tame the wild spirit of the savages and "reduce" them to a spirit of relative civilization.

The first Spanish establishment in the region of the Río de la Plata, or Plate River, was the fort called La Sancti Spiritus, erected by Sebastian Cabot, a Venetian in the service of Spain, and son of John Cabot the celebrated navigator who cruised along the eastern coast of North America. This fort was erected in 1526 at the confluence of the Paraná and Carcaraña Rivers, and was garrisoned with 170 men. Four years later it was destroyed by Timbú Indians who killed the men, carried away the women and children, and burned all the buildings.

Together with the report of his trip to these regions Cabot forwarded to Spain some silver jewels which the Guarani Indians had presented to him; whence comes the name Río de la Plata (River of Silver) given to the stream through the mistaken idea that silver mines abounded on its banks.

In 1535 Don Pedro de Mendoza, a Spanish General in the service of Charles V, came with a powerful expedition consisting of 14 ships and 2.000 soldiers, and on 6 January laid the foundations of a city which he called 'Santa Maria de Buenos Aires'. Some time afterward this settlement was attacked and partially destroyed by the Indians.
The work of rebuilding it was begun 15 June, 1850, by Don Juan de Garay. The city of La Asunción, now the capital of Paraguay, was founded by Juan de Ayikas, a lieutenant of Mendoza, 15 August, 1536. Under the rule of Hernando Arias de Saavedra, Generally called Hernandarias, who was born on Argentine soil and had been elected governor by the settlers, the Jesuits were called the civilize the Indians.

The first Fathers landed at Salta in 1586, and established a college at Córdoba, from which they sent missionaries to all parts of the Argentine territory. Fathers Montoya and Cataldino went to Paraguay and settled, in 1610, La Asunción. Seven years after the landing of the Jesuit Fathers, over 100,000 Indians had been congregated in four different towns and were engaged in agricultural pursuits and useful arts and trades.
They built houses, hospitals, and asylums; learned to read and write, and became acquainted with painting, sculpture, and music. Even at this early date they had established a printing office with type made by themselves. In the course of time, this work of civilization was greatly extended. The "Geografía Argentina" of Señores Urien and Colombo says that in or about 1631 there was not less than thirty centres of population under the rule of the Jesuits.
Each town had a curate who was at the same time the governor, the judge, and the spiritual advisor of the inhabitants. But the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Spanish dominions by the Government of Charles III put an end to this prosperous condition. The expulsion took place in Buenos Aires, 3 July, 1767. Governor Don Francisco de Paula Bucarelli was the official entrusted with the execution of the disastrous measure.
On 1 August, 1776, the Government of Spain decided to establish what it called the vice-royalty of the River Plate, under Don Pedro de Zeballos, the first viceroy. The last viceroy was Don Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros (1809). The revolutionary movement which ended in the independence of the country, began in the Argentine territory, as everywhere else in South America, in 1808, at the time of the imprisonment of King Ferdinand by Napoleon.

The formal declaration of independence was made 9 July, 1816. In 1853, after the country had passed through the ordeals of several civil wars, a war with Brazil, and the Rosas dictatorship, the federal Constitution which is now in force (amended in 1860) was framed and promulgated. Since then the Argentina has developed and prospered rapidly.

The Dominicans in Argentina.

The Dominicans were in Tucumán in 1550 under the jurisdiction of the Provincial of Chile. Because there are many cultural differences between the Argentinean and Chilean Brothers the Bishop of Tucumán, the Dominican Emanuel del Mercadillo, requested the Spanish King to separate the priories of Buenos Aires, Tucumán and Paraguay from the province of Chile. 

Twenty five years later Pope Benedict's XIII allowed this petition and with  by his Bull 'St. Agustin de Buenos Aires' the Dominican Province of Argentina was founded with as first Provincial Gerardo de Leon, O.P., June 1724.

There are nine priories: Buenos Aires (Santo Domingo), Córdoba, Paraguay, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero, La Rioja, Corrientes, Tucumán (San Miguel) and Cuyo.

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