THE ONLY THING I ASK OF ANYBODY BEFORE POSTING, IS THAT THEY READ THE ENTIRE POST FIRST
(I know it is long, but it contains a lot of referenced information)
Here we go with one of the all-time most contentious subjects in all of the Treasure Hunting World:
Hidden/Lost Jesuit Treasures
Where to start, where to start, where to start? I guess I should start with my opinions:
Based on years of studying period letters between the Missionaries and the Fathers Visitadores, period Jesuit books, published journals of the Jesuit Fathers Travels, found treasure bars markings, and a lot more, I believe that the Missionary Fathers did not operate nor work mines. Anyone who has read all the work that was expected of every one of them every day, knows that there would not have been enough time in their days to handle all those responsibilities as well as their Religious Responsibilities to their flocks.
Also, we have all the rules and precepts the Jesuit Fathers operated under from about 1664. For more in depth information, I advise anybody interested in Jesuit Treasures to get Father Charles Polzer SJ’s book: “Rules and Precepts of Jesuit Missions in Northwestern New Spain.” It clears up a lot of misconceptions about Jesuit Mining.
First, everyone NEEDS to understand exactly what a Precept is. They are more correctly called an Ecclesiastical Precept. When it comes to Religious Orders, the Ecclesiastical Precept is a rule that is second only to the word of God. Above all the vows a Jesuit is required to take, the Vow of Obedience is the most important. It was singularly mentioned by none other than Saint Francis Xavier when he penned his VERY FAMOUS: "Letter of Obedience" at Coimbra , Portugal on 26 March 1533. That letter became an ascetical classic, and was read MONTHLY IN ALL JESUIT HOUSES OF FORMATION. He states; "Of course, I wish you to be perfect in all spiritual gifts and adornments. But it is especially in the virtue of obedience, as you have heard from me on other occasions, that I am anxious to see you signalize yourselves.". For a Jesuit Priest to break an Ecclesiastical Precept would mean that they had committed a MORTAL SIN and broken their Vow of Obedience. By doing this, they stood a real risk of being excommunicated from the Church and the Order. Considering the Jesuits at the time, took an average of twenty-one years to go from entering the Society to professing their final vows, I doubt any Jesuit Missionary Father would have knowingly done that. Now, why did I go through all that long explanation of Ecclesiastical Precepts? Simple! To get back to the reason for this thread!
Based on existing documents regarding Jesuit Frontier Fathers Rules and Precepts, we know that as early as about 1664 that EVERY Jesuit Father was bound under pain of Holy Law that they could not engage in ANY venture for profit.
As early as 1699, we have the first actual precept regarding mining:
“18. A Precept of Father Provincial Francisco de Arteaga: No one will possess knowledge about mining either directly or indirectly; even if his intention is to have a general knowledge about everything, such knowledge would fall under this precept.”
Again in 1716:
“No one will work mines.”
Again in 1747:
“No one will work mines. This includes the prohibition that no one will have any knowledge about the matter of mining either directly or indirectly. The intention of this precept is to include all forms of knowledge or interpretations that could even fall within the same precept.
Now that we understand the basic FACTS of the rules the Jesuit Fathers had to live under, we can lay to rest some common misconceptions that I see everywhere regarding the Jesuits:
1. The Jesuits DID NOT have any agreements with the Kings of Spain that would oblige them to pay him 20% of ANYTHING! They were not allowed to MINE!
2. The Jesuit Fathers themselves did not own or operate mines. They were forbidden under pain of Mortal Sin!
3. The Jesuit Fathers were forbidden to operate ANY businesses for profit.
Where does this leave us? Can we conclude that the Jesuits didn’t have any mines or treasures? OF COURSE NOT! Just not the Jesuit Missionary Fathers. Most people unfamiliar with the Jesuit Infrastructure have no idea that the Jesuit Missionary Fathers were the low rung of the Jesuit Ladder.
The Jesuit New World was made up of Rectorates. Each Rectorate had a Cabacera (head) and College. This is where the Jesuit Visitor Generals were based out of. These were the bosses of the Jesuit World. They made the Rules and determined if the rules were important enough to be made into Ecclesiastical Precepts.
Another relatively unknown player in the Jesuit Infrastructure were the men who professed their allegiance to the Jesuit Order, but did not intend to go to the level of Priest. They were laymen who were unrestricted by the Jesuit Fathers’ Rules and Precepts. They were free to operate mines and businesses for profit. These men, my friends, were the Jesuit Temporal Coadjutors. They were free to hold public office. Free to join the military. Free to join the Police. Free to conduct business for profit. FREE TO OWN AND OPERATE MINES! The profits from these individuals was sent directly to the Cabaceras and Jesuit Colleges, while (in my opinion based on my research) the bulk of their gold and silver was shipped by way of the Gulf of Mexico to Rome or Gulf of California to Manila (a large Jesuit Colony).
What might constitute a Jesuit Treasure;
1. Gold and Silver Bars, Coins and the like.
2. Candlesticks, Monstrances, Ciboria, and various other Church Vestments made of precious metals in quantities large or small.
3. A combination of numbers 1 and 2.
4. The exploration of the areas, conversions of the heathens, and aid they rendered to those converted.
First, nobody can argue that number 4 is not absolutely true. Both the spiritual and exploratory work they did from 1608 until their expulsion in 1767 was a wonder for the ages. An example of how a small group of determined people can make such extraordinary advances in the knowledge base of mankind and bringing the light of God into the hearts of so many people in a frightening new world. One has only to read about Padre Kino SJ and his changing of world maps that previous to his explorations showed California as an island. He was the first to contradict that idea. Other testaments lie in all the missions that were manned by the tiniest number of Jesuit Fathers in some of the most hostile territory on Earth. Many of them gave their lives in the most gruesome manners imaginable at the hands of those that fought the changes they wanted to bring.
Next, I would like to talk about number 2. Of all the Jesuit Treasures, this possibility is the most believable to most people who are of a more skeptical bent. While some diehards do not believe that even these are possible, I give you the words of one of the most DIE HARD of all Jesuit Treasure Skeptics: Father Charles W. Polzer SJ; in the Aug 1962 edition of Desert Magazine, as part of a larger article on preserving the old missions and other historically significant places he writes:
"Many Missions prized their paintings by European and Mexican Masters. Gilded Altars, packed in sections, were shipped from Mexico City or Guadalajara. Costly beeswax burned in solid silver candelabra. Indeed, the Padres could often claim quite justly that their frontier churches were equal to many a Cathedral in Europe.
If any Jesuit Treasure has survived, it is physically possible that it is a cache of vestments, sacred vessels, and Church ornaments. (But we have yet to review this possibility in terms of it’s concealment and subsequent loss)."
While he does go on to say that no Church records have been found that verify this possibility, he DOES say that it is a possibility. For those of you who know Father Polzer's stance on the subject, it was indeed a revelation to me when I first read it.
We need to know why the Jesuits would want to amass such wonderous vestments in the first place. In some miserable mud hovel in an arid remote hostile desert setting, what would be the great need to have such things? Well, Father Johann (Juan) Nentvig SJ, in his book "Rudo Ensayo" spells it out so that even a person not having any secret Church knowledge can understand:
"Although in these miserable times opposing opinions have arisen among critics, some praising and others condemning the care and expense of adorning and maintaining the temples with all possible dignity and decency for the reverence due to the Supreme Maker of all creation, I will not enter into a dispute over the subject, but I believe in what Our Mother, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, has always praised, approved, practised, and in a certain fashion glorified in the lives of its Saints. One learns from the lessons of St Ignatius of Loyola, father and founder of the Society of Jesus, when he says in praise of that Holy Patriarch, “Templorum nitor, catechismi traditio, concionum ac Sacramentorum frequentia ab ipso incrementum accepere.”I shall say that my heart rejoices with delight, and I feel more inclined to worship and praise Our Lord when I enter any well adorned church. I must let the admiration argument prevail, a maiori ad minorem [from the highest to the lowest], for if we who are more rational than the Indians find incentive and devotion in temples that outshine others by their glowing adornments and will choose those in preference to the slovenly ones for Mass, Sermon, Confession, and Communion, how much more must the Indians be in need of such stimuli when nothing of what they hear takes hold upon them unless it enters through their eyes with some sort of demonstration of the Supreme Creator about whom the preacher is speaking? So, when they see that the house of God is well ordered, clean, and beautifully adorned, they perceive at once the magnificence of its Owner and Ruler. I praise the missionaries of Sonora for imitating their great Father St. Ignatius."
There you have it! A Jesuit Father himself quoting the very words of the Founder of the Jesuit Order: SAINT Ignatious Loyola SJ! So, now we know WHY the Jesuits would want to accrue such beautiful and costly appointments, but do we have any evidence, other than what Father Polzer SJ calls a "possibility"? You bet your sweet bippy we do! We have the words of some of the Jesuit Fathers themselves. Why don't we start with our old friend, Father Johann Nentvig SJ (again from Rudo Ensayo):
"All the churches have side altars, appropriate ornaments, and chalices of silver and in three instances of gold. There are other sacred vessels such as ciboriums, monstrances, large and small candlesticks and crosses, and nearly all churches have silver statues of the Virgin, organs, bassoons, oboes, and bells, not only at the principal missions but at the dependent ones as well. There are also choruses of Indian singers, and masses are celebrated nearly every Sunday, on days of obligation and on the principal festival days with vespers the evening before when required. And there are processions and other ceremonies of the Holy Church which are accomplished with all possible dignity in order to present a visual display of the majesty of our Holy Religion to the neophytes so that they may remain impressed with its splendor and be attracted to it. Their disposition piae affectionis is to believe through their eyes rather than their ears."
That's pretty good. Anything else? You betcha! Why don't we read the words of Father Joseph Och SJ, in a passage from his journals (Missionary in Sonora; the travel reports of Joseph Och, S.J., 1755-1767):
"Via pleasant roads we finally reached Ozumba, one of the beautiful estates belonging to the Puebla College, and two hours distant from the city. .... Then we were driven into the city of Puebla de los Angeles in several coaches amid the cheers of a great multitude, and lodged in the great, splendid College of the Holy Ghost, where we were entertained as guests for three days. … [Regarding the Cathedral in Puebla.] The cathedral church possesses an exceedingly rich treasure in its gold and silver church appointments. In Spain and the Indies the prebendaries and other canons do not have their choir at the high altar. Rather, not far from the church entrance is a large, high partition in front of their seats, and from the choir to the high altar for their sole use runs an aisle enclosed on both sides by railings. These railings run through the entire cathedral church and are of the finest cast silver, each amounting to at least eight hundred weight. The colossally large, silver hanging lamp inspires awe in all visitors. It is more than eight feet across and is very thick and massively decorated. The chains with finger-thick silver links are so heavy that when a ladder is leaned against them they do not move. A man can quite comfortably walk around the edge of the lamp. The decoration is rather ponderous, yet its manufacture by a goldsmith [sic] is supposed to have cost two thousand pesos. I omit mention of the many thick, large silver candlesticks, monstrances, and ciboria of finest gold. Suchlike are found in proportion and abundance in all churches, even those in the smallest villages for the glorious Divine service..................."
WOW! THAT'S AMAZING! Right from the horse's mouth. Let me here add a couple of points of fact so that the reader can make a more informed decision:
1. Father Nentvig's Journals are beyond reproach. There is no doubt he wrote the words that I have attributed to him.
2. Father Och's Journals are not 100% attributable. We know that he put them all together during his final years while he lived at the Jesuit College at Wurzburg, Bavaria. He passed away in 1773. Thirty-six years after his death in 1809, a book called "Der S.J. in Neumexico. Nachrichten von seinem Reisen nach dem Spanischen Amerika, seinem dortigen Auftenthalte vom Jahr 1755 bis 1767, und Rückkehr nach Europa 1768. Aus dessen eigenhändigen Aufsätzen" was published. These were the collected writings of Father Och SJ. His journals were kept at the Jesuit College in Wurzburg until most of the city was destroyed in an Allied Air Raid in 1945. I have not personally been able to locate them after that. So, while it is remotely possible that some parts of his journals MAY not have been written by Father Och, all one has to do is to read the entire book translated by Theodore E. Treutline to understand that it is HIGHLY unlikely that those were not the actual writings of Father Och SJ. I ONLY included this in the interest of being intellectually honest in what I say.
Most Holy Father, I found almost all the wealth all immovables and all treasures of this Province of America in the hands of the Jesuits who still possess them. Two of their colleges have 30,000 sheep without counting the small flocks and whilst almost all the cathedral churches and all the Orders together have hardly three sugar refineries the Society alone has six of the largest. One of these refineries is valued at more than half a million thalers and this single Province of the Jesuits which however only consists of ten colleges possesses as I have just said six of these refineries each one of which brings in 100,000 thalers yearly. Besides this they have various corn fields of enormous size . Also they have silver mines and if they continue to increase their power and wealth as excessively as they have done up to now the secular clergy will become their sacristans and the laymen their stewards whilst the other Orders will be forced to collect alms at their doors. All this property and all these considerable revenues which might make a sovereign powerful serve no other purpose than to maintain ten colleges To this may be added the extraordinary skill with which they make use of and increase their superabundant wealth They maintain public warehouses cattle fairs butchers stalls and shops They send a part of their goods by way of the Philippine Islands to China They lend out their money for usury and thus cause the greatest loss and injury to others
<Don Juan Palafox Briefe an Papst Innozenz X Frankfort and Leipzig 1773 pp 7-9, letter of May 25th 1647 from John Palafox Bishop of Los Angeles wrote to Pope Innocent X >published in Fourteen years a Jesuit: a record of personal experience by Paul Hoensbroech (Graf von) pp 87, 1911
Now let us move on to numbers 1 and 3. There are no historical documents stating that the Jesuits possessed ANY stores of gold and/or silver bars, coins, etc. What we have, are a couple of documents that are SUPPOSED to be inventories of treasures that were hidden before the Jesuits were expelled from the New World during the night of 25-26 June 1767. Those who are familiar with histories written by Father Ernest J Burrus SJ, Father Charles W. Polzer SJ, Traditional Historians, and most history books detailing Colonial Spanish times in the New World are right now saying "THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE! King Charles III made certain that his orders to arrest all the Jesuits, march them to the sea, and ship them all back to Europe, were sealed and COMPLETELY secret until the day they were to be arrested! WRONG! Well, not completely wrong. They were supposedly a secret to everybody that received the King's Letters. There are a few little niggling facts that keep getting omitted from most of that history you have read. Surprised? I was!
First, here is a bit from the official history of the City of Guanajuato, Mexico:
"In 1765, King Charles III of Spain took a large chunk out of the wealthy mining barons of Guanajuato, and in 1767 discontent arose when the Jesuits were expelled from Spanish lands, since both the wealthy owners and the poor miners held allegiance to the Jesuits. This discontent with Spanish rule among the criollos (Creoles, but in this context means)"
While this in itself is not a smoking gun (so to speak), it does show that it MAY have been possible for the Jesuits to have received some advanced warning from those seculars who had allegiances to the Jesuits.
Here is something a more concrete. It's not a quote or something vague. It is simply a historical fact that keeps being either omitted or ignored by traditional historians:
The Jesuits knew without doubt what was coming! How do we know this? Very simply, the Jesuit Expulsions from all of Spain's Holdings around the world was not the only, nor indeed the first of the Jesuit's Expulsions:
1. Due to Jesuit Involvement in Portuguese Rebellions, they were expelled from all of Portugal's lands around the world on 06 July 1758. A full nine years before their Spanish Expulsion!
2. Due to the same intrigues, in November of 1763, the French King dissolved the Jesuit Order in all French Holdings worldwide. Four years before their Spanish Expulsion!
3. Due, again, to more of the same intrigues, Spain and its’ colonies (European), and it's principalities (Naples) arrested all the Jesuits during the night of 1-2 April 1767, and in Spain’s Holdings worldwide on the night of 25-26 June 1767.
4. After a Papal Threat, the Kingdom of Parma expelled the Jesuits and dissolved their Order in 1768.
So, due to the earlier expulsions from everywhere else in the world (except Russia and Prussia) by the year 1763, there is little doubt that the Jesuit Order knew FAR in advance of 25-26 June 1767 that the very same fate would befall them in Spanish Lands in time. They had YEARS to hide all their great accumulated wealth.
Now, we move on to examine one of those supposed Jesuit Treasure "proofs". It has come to be known as the Molina Document and the associated Molina Map. It was said to be the product of a Sister Michaela Molina. While she was serving at an Archive in Rome, she supposedly came across a document that detailed a HUGE Cache of Jesuit Treasure that was buried near the Tumacacori Mission in the Santa Cruz River Valley. She was said to have hand copied the document and kept it a secret until she moved to the United States. There are a couple of problems with that document:
1. There is no extant record of any Sister Michaela Molina. There is a Molina Family that lives nearby, and their family history says there was a Michaela Molina. Nothing hard though.
2. The document and map were unknown until about 1933 when John D. Mitchell wrote about it. We know from the Stone Maps story that it could have been around, but kept a secret for many years before that, because of the nature of the information contained in the document. It is the contention of the National Park Service and the Jesuit Order that John D. Mitchell either had the document made or was defrauded by someone who knew he was a treasure hunter. The NPS gives many reasons for the document to be labeled a hoax/fraud. The main ones are the orientation of the page and the writing. They seem to miss the part of the story about where Sister Molina HAND COPIES her document from the original.
That's about all for now, as I am VERY tired of typing.