Name: Father Pedro Martínez, SJ (Teruel, Aragon)
Date: October 6, 1566
The first wave of Jesuit missionaries to Florida arrived off the coast of Florida in September 1566. Three Jesuits were aboard: Fr. John Rogel, Br. Francis Villareal, and the thirty-two-year-old Fr. Pedro Martínez, a brilliant scholar and teacher, compassionate rector, and strong athlete, who had begged repeatedly for permission to go on the missions to the New World.
Since the pilot was unable to locate the port of Santa Elena, he sought volunteers to go ashore in search of directions and badly-needed water. Fr. Martínez volunteered, thereby motivating others of the Flemish crew to join him. They were near the mouth of the St. John’s River. Fr. Martínez and his companions wandered for two weeks, cut off from the rest of the crew, who were in route to Hispaniola in advance of a fierce impending storm.
After being received hospitably by various tribes, eventually they encountered some who were hostile. Fr. Martínez, unwilling to abandon fellow members of his party who had gone ashore in search of food, was soon surrounded by hostile members of the Tacatucuru tribe who held him underwater and then dragged him to shore where they clubbed him to death. The site is not far from present-day Jacksonville. ©2017 Martyrs of La Florida Missions