Apuntes: Revista de Estudios sobre Patrimonio Cultural - Journal of Cultural Heritage Studies
Print version ISSN 1657-9763
GUTIERREZ, Ramón. The Circular Missions of the Jesuits in Chiloé: Notes to a Particularity in the History of Evangelization. Apuntes [online]. 2007, vol.20, n.1, pp. 50-69. ISSN 1657-9763.
The Jesuits in America occupied peripheral areas and zones with a high risk of warlike conflicts with Indians or other European powers. The consolidation and defense of territories was as important as the evangelic duty. In the case of Chiloé -isolated because of its location in the extreme south of the continent, because of its island-like characteristics and because of the impassable border formed by the Indians- the Jesuits organized in the course of the 18th century a fantastic spatial network with their "circular missions" which allowed them to consolidate aboriginal communities in settlements around a chapel that was visited once a year and whose religious duties were led for the rest of the year by a "fiscal" appointed from the community itself. The "selection of the best" -mechanism which was inherent in the pedagogical criteria of the Compañía de Jesús- was developed from the Castro school and was applied to this empirical evangelization system. Although the chapels have been renovated, the network still shows the vitality of this way of organizing religion in the everyday life of the Chiloé communities. The work of the Jesuits in Chiloé is a distinctive feature as strong as the geography and the "seaside" settlement characteristics, and leaves a singular mark in the local culture. It also is an exceptional way of evangelization compared to other Jesuit experiences on the continent.
Keywords : Jesuits; Circular Missions; Archipelago; Fiscals; Franciscans of Propaganda FIDE.