Father Juan de Padilla

Father Juan de Padilla (1500–1542) born in Andalusia, was a Spanish Roman Catholic missionary who spent much of his life exploring North America with Francisco Vasquez de Coronado.

Padilla and three other Franciscans, together with more than 300 Spanish soldiers and workers, accompanied Coronado on his quest for the Seven Cities of Gold, a mythical land of great wealth. When Coronado abandoned his search, Padilla and others followed him to explore what is now the Southwestern United States; Padilla was one of the first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon. But, when Coronado was told by a native named the "Turk" that a great land called Quivira was in modern-day Kansas, Coronado's entire party immediately left in search of it.

After reaching the location in 1541, the Spaniards camped alongside a Wichita village for 25 days. Finding no gold, they killed the Turk in fury. Coronado returned to the Southwest and Padilla followed. One year later, the missionary priest returned to Kansas to preach to the Wichita, and establish the first Christian mission in the present-day United States. He was killed in Kansas in 1542 by Native Americans, and is considered to be one of the first Christian martyrs in the U.S.

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