I'ishop f4arix de Porras aNd rexas
NETTLE LEE BENSON
TEXAs has been the subject of countless letters to the folks
back home. Among the earliest such letters was one
written by one of the first Spanish bishops to visit Texas.
Bishop Marin de Porras had three reasons for taking up his
pen on June 20, 1805. First, he had just completed a trip
through Texas in the spring over an ideal route which had taken
him from Villa de Camargo on the Rio Grande to La Bahia del
Espiritu Santo, thence to Nacogdoches, to Bayou Pierre and to
Natchitoches, then back to Nacogdoches, thence to San Antonio,
and from there to the Presidio del Rio Grande. After having
been almost two years in the rocky, arid region of Nuevo Leon
and Tamaulipas, he found Texas a land of abundance, which
reminded him of the "fertile fields of Oropesa."1 But this land
of plenty was largely unpopulated. The bishop dreamed of him-
self as the father of this wonderful region. He longed to be
responsible for populating it. This was his second reason for
writing the letter. But he feared that he had jeopardized his
chance of realizing his dream by his unauthorized visit to Natchi-
toches. Thus, his third reason for writing was to explain his
unprecedented action and to beg forgiveness.
On July 2o, 1801, King Charles IV of Spain had nominated
Don Primo Feliciano Marin de Porras, native of Tamar6n, Bur-
gos, Spain, to the position of fourth bishop of Linares. This
nomination was confirmed by Pope Pius VII, and Don Marin
de Porras was consecrated in Valladolid (Morelia), Mexico, in
18o2.3 It was not, however, until about April 25, 1803, that the
bishop left Mexico City for Monterrey to take charge of his see.4
10ropesa is a fertile region on the eastern seacoast of Spain.
2The Catholic Encyclopedia (16 vols.; New York, 1907-1914), IX, 266; Jose
Eleuterio Gonzalez, Obras completas (4 vols,; Monterrey, 1885-1901), III, 370-374.
Cf. Herbert E. Bolton, Guide to Materials for the History of the United States in
the Principal Archives of Mexico (Washington, 1913), 416, 472. Bolton calls
Bishop Marin de Porras the third bishop of Linares.
aGonzalez, Obras completas, III, 374-
4El Obispo del Nuevo Reino de Leon, Mexico, April 20, 18o3, to Dr. Miguel
Sanchez Navarro in the Sanchez-Navarro Papers, document 574, at the University
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101119/. Accessed March 14, 2014.