Tomb of First Martyred Latin American Bishop Is Discovered

Found by Nicaragua´s National Institute of Culture

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LEON VIEJO, Nicaraugua, JAN. 6, 2001 (ZENIT.org).- The remains of the person whom experts believe is Bishop Antonio Valdivieso, killed in 1550 for defending the Indians, and regarded as the first martyred Bishop of America, were shown to the press last Wednesday by the National Institute of Culture of Nicaragua.



Clemente Guido, director of this Institute, referred to the 4 tombs in the Cathedral of Leon Viejo, which are believed to contain the remains of the 4 bishops who evangelized Nicaragua.

According to Guido, "the third tomb is that of... Antonio Valdivieso, the first Bishop martyr of Latin America, stabbed to death in 1550. . ." The Catholic Church has made no formal proclamation of martyrdom.

"The murder was motivated by the struggle of Nicaraguans against the new laws in the West Indies, whose principal objective was to make the Indians vassals of the king, subjected by law," the Institute´s director explained.

Clemente Guido showed the press the remains of the third tomb and pointed out that because of the peculiar characteristics of these remains, it is believed they are those of Bishop Valdivieso.

The remains evidence wounds to the left hand and spine, rigor mortis. . . The tomb. . . is not elaborate, he was probably buried when he had already acquired that state after being abandoned in the place of the murder, until his mother asked the murderer for permission to bury him in the Church," Celemente concluded.

Dominican Bishop Antonio Valdivieso arrived in Nicaragua at the end of 1543 or early 1544. He is regarded as the first Bishop of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, according to the commission entrusted to him by a royal decree dated May 5, 1545, which enabled him to supervise the province of Cartago.