Francisco Ximénez

Father Francisco Ximénez (1666 – 1729) came as a Dominican missionary to the New World in February 1688. His companions were initially dispatched throughout the province to learn the native languages. However, Ximénez was delayed by the completion of his novitiate and his subsequent acceptance of an administrative assignment at the seminary, but by 1691 the young priest was in San Juan Sacatepéquez learning Cakchiquel. He attained sufficient mastery in only two months so as to be sent to San Pedro de las Huertas to assist Father Francisco de Viedma who was convalescing a broken leg. In December 1693, Ximénez began his service as the Doctrinero of San Raimundo and in August of 1701 Ximénez began his curacy of Santo Tomás Chichicastenango (also known as Chuilá and virtually any combination thereof). Father Ximénez was the Curate of Rabinal from 1704 through 1714. During this time he also served as the Doctrinero, Vicario, and Predicador-General of that district beginning as early as 1705. Father Ximénez served in various other capacities until his death in late 1729 or early 1730. Sadly, he was appointed Presentado, but died before the letters of patent could be delivered.

Ximénez’s writings exhibit a clear passion for the native languages. He was also clearly invested in the history of the region and was commissioned to compile a history of the region. The first volume of his Historia de la provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y Gvatemala includes a modified version of Popol Vuh, specifically, chapters two through twenty-one of Book One, Qve trata del tiempo de la gentilidad. As for his initial transcription and translation of Popol Vuh, most believe it occurred during his 1701-1703 curacy of Santo Tomás Chuilá (Chichicastenango) based on the caption of the title page. Interestingly enough, this very title page reads Empiezan las historias del origen de los indios de esta provinçia de Gvatemala. Ximénez never actually refers to the mythistory as “Popol Vuh.” In any event, his writings remained posthumously in the possession of the Dominican Order at the Convent of Santo Domingo, that is, until General Francisco Morazán expelled the clerics from Guatemala in 1829 causing these and other items to pass to the Universidad de San Carlos. In all there is rather little biographical information available and there are no known portraits.

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