Blessed Juan de Palafox Mendoza

detail of a oil painting of 'Viceroy Juan de Palafox y Mendoza', date and artist unknown; currently in the Salón de Virreyes of the Museo Nacional de Historia, Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City, Mexico; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsMemorial


Born the illegitimate son of an Aragonese noble, Jaime de Palafox, the Marquis of Ariaza; his father would not recognize him, his mother became a Carmelite nun, and Juan was raised by a family of millers. When the boy was ten years old, his father finally acknowledged him and took over his upbringing. Juan was educated at Alcalá and Salamanca, and served as a political administrator in Monzón, Spain in 1626. Member of the Council of the Indies, the body that administered the overseas territory of the Spanish Empire.

Juan was ordained a priest in April 1629. He served as chaplain to the Holy Roman Empress, Maria of Austria, who was also the sister of King Philip IV of Spain, and travelled with her around Europe. Chosen bishop of Tlaxcala, México on 3 October 1639 by Pope Urban VIII, he served for nearly 14 years, including as interim Archbishop of Mexico from 10 June 1642 to 23 November 1642. Part of his time was served as viceroy to King Philip. He founded the Biblioteca Palafoxiana library on 5 September 1646 with 5,000 volumes, the College of San Pedro, the College of San Pablo, the Dominican convent of Santa Inez, the Purísima Concepción school for girls, and he completed construction of the cathedral for Tlexcala. While he supported missionary work among the natives of his diocese, he forbade any attempt to force or coerce conversion.

Bishop Juan became involved in struggle with the Jesuits in New Spain over Church financing, and whether the Jesuits in his territory would submit to his authority. The Jesuits refused to do so, and had the support of the new viceroy. After much political wrangling, including appeals to the Vatican, Juan was recalled to Spain and chosen bishop of the Diocese of Osma in Old Castile, Spain from 16 August 1653 until his death six years later. His writings, part of which concerned what he perceived to be lax theological standards of Jesuit missionaries, ran to 15 published volumes.





Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Juan de Palafox Mendoza“. CatholicSaints.Info. 31 December 2019. Web. 24 October 2021. <>