JOSÉ DE ANCHIETA Y LLARENA - Famous figures - Tenerife

José de Anchieta y Llarena

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Born into a wealthy family in La Laguna in 1534, José de Anchieta y Llarena was a Jesuit missionary who devoted his life to the church, instructing and converting Brazilian Indians to the Catholic faith. After studying in Portugal, he returned to Tenerife in 1551 with the Society of Jesus, who he travelled with to Brazil two years later. In 1554, he created a school that nucleus for today's city of Sao Paulo, which he is considered the founder of, as well as of Rio de Janeiro. Worthy of special mention in his biography was his work defending the Brazilian aborigines, whose language he not only learnt but helped to standardise. He was the first Canary-born dramatist, poet and grammarian, as well as an accomplished doctor, architect and humanist. He died in the Brazilian village of Reritiba, now known as Anchieta, in 1597.

José de Anchieta, also named the “Apostle of Brazil”, was beatified by John Paul II in 1980.