While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Donald E. Chipman

AYETA, FRANCISCO DE (1640–169?). Francisco de Ayeta, missionary, was born in Pamplona, Spain, in 1640. He entered the Franciscan order at the age of nineteen, was ordained a priest the next year, and was assigned to the province of New Mexico. He provided vital assistance to refugees at El Paso del Norte when they arrived after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The exiles numbered nearly 2,000, including soldiers and other men, women, servants, children, and Indian allies. Among the last were Tiguas from Isleta pueblo.

Ayeta, a remarkable missionary, had only recently arrived in El Paso with a large train of supplies from New Spain. He agreed to provide rations for the displaced families, especially if Governor Antonio de Otermín should decide to undertake an immediate reconquest of Pueblo lands. When Otermín chose to delay military initiatives, the refugees were moved to camps near Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Mission, west of the Rio Grande. Otermín then requested authorization to build a presidio, regarded as essential to the safety of the displaced persons. To lend support to the proposed garrison of fifty men and obtain additional provisions, Father Ayeta traveled to Mexico City.

During the winter months of 1681–82, Otermín attempted an unsuccessful reconquest of New Mexico. This failed campaign determined that Spanish recovery of Pueblo country would be a long and difficult process, and that realization lent a reluctant sense of permanence to the El Paso communities. The desire to resettle the Tigua Indians-including the original refugees and additional ones who returned with Otermín in 1682-away from Spanish settlers prompted Ayeta to assist in the founding of the mission and pueblo of Corpus Christi de la Isleta. The first mission within the borders of present Texas, thanks to a shifting river channel in 1829, was located a few miles east of El Paso near the site of modern Ysleta, Texas.

Father Ayeta, in ill health and physically impaired, left the frontier and returned to Spain in 1683. There he took up his pen in defense of the missionary (regular) clergy, who were increasingly challenged by bishops and the secular clergy. Ayeta died in Spain during the decade of the 1690s. He has been called one of New Mexico's greatest men.

Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). C. L. Sonnichsen, Pass of the North: Four Centuries on the Rio Grande (2 vols., El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1968, 1980). W. H. Timmons, El Paso: A Borderlands History (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1990).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Donald E. Chipman, "AYETA, FRANCISCO DE," accessed August 12, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fay09.

Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...