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 »


Robert S. Weddle

SANTIESTEBAN ABERÍN, JOSÉ DE (1719–1758). Fray José de Santiesteban Aberín, one of two Franciscan priests martyred at Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission, was born in Muniáin de la Solana, Navarro, Spain, and was baptized in Asunción parish on March 15, 1719. He professed the Franciscan rule in the monastery of San Francisco de Pamplona and at age thirty sailed from Cádiz, on December 31, 1749, to join the mission movement in New Spain. Upon his arrival in Mexico in 1750, he went to the missionary college of San Fernando de México "on mission." In 1756, "because of his piety, he felt called to the conquest and reduction of the Apache Indians in the mission on the San Saba River." He was one of two friars sent by the College of San Fernando to that enterprise. With five others-one from San Fernando and three from Santa Cruz de Querétaro-he arrived at San Antonio on December 14, 1756, and continued to the San Saba River the following April. While several of the missionaries withdrew in despair, Fray José remained steadfast in his commitment. When the "Indians of the North"-including Comanches, Wichitas, and members of several other tribes-attacked the mission on March 16, 1758, only he and the mission president, Fray Alonso Giraldo de Terreros, remained of the original group. Both lost their lives in the ensuing melee, along with at least six other persons. When the Indians approached, Father Santiesteban was celebrating Mass in the mission's crude chapel. He suspended the service but remained before the altar in prayer. The Indians apparently overtook him there, although none of the survivors who reached San Luis de las Amarillas Presidio had witnessed his death or even seen him after the attack began. Eight days later his headless body was found among the ashes, his head in the ruins of the clothing storehouse. Like Father Terreros, Father Santiesteban was proposed for canonization by the Catholic bishops of the United States in 1941. The matter was still pending in 1994.

Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Paul D. Nathan, trans., and Lesley Byrd Simpson, ed., The San Sabá Papers (San Francisco: Howell, 1959). Robert S. Weddle, The San Sabá Mission (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964).

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, Robert S. Weddle, "SANTIESTEBAN ABERIN, JOSE DE," accessed May 26, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsa53.

Uploaded on June 15, 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...