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Luís Jayme, O.F.M., (born Melchor Jayme October 18, 1740; died November 4, 1775) was a Spanishmarker-born Roman Catholic priest of the Franciscan Order. Born in the farm Son Baró in the village of Sant Joanmarker, Majorcamarker, his earliest schooling was acquired from the local parish priest. At the age of fifteen Melchor was enrolled at the convent school of San Bernardino, where Fray Junípero Serra had studied some years earlier.

Melchor Jayme was admitted to the Franciscan Order on September 27, 1760 in the Convento de Santa Maria de los Angeles de Jesus. Following a year of strict seclusion and rigorous discipline, Jayme solemnly promised to observe the rule of the Friars Minor for the rest of his earthly lifespan; he was known as Fray Luís from thereon. The friar conducted his theological studies at the Convento de San Francisco, and was ordained to the priesthood on December 22, 1764. Fray Luís was appointed "Lector of Philosophy" upon completion of his coursework (a position he occupied at San Francisco from 1765 to 1770). Jayme arrived in New Spain in early 1770 after a long and arduous trans-Atlanticmarker voyage. There he began the special training course at the missionary College of San Fernando de Mexico wherein "soldiers of the Cross" were conditioned to the privation, fatigue, mortification and penance encountered on the missionary frontier. Fray Luís set out for California along with nine other priests to begin a ten-year commitment ministering to the indigenuos population.
An illustration depicts the brutal death of Father Luís Jayme by the hands of angry natives at Mission San Diego de Alcalá, November 4, 1775.

Jayme was assigned to Mission San Diego de Alcalámarker, where his earliest efforts were devoted to mastering the complexities of the local native language. Once he had gained a facility with its vocabulary, he was able to compile a polyglot Christian catechism. The lack of a dependable water supply, coupled with the proximity of the military personnel at the presidiomarker, led to the priest asking for and being granted permission to relocate the mission from its original site, atop Presidio Hill, to the valley several miles east, where it is presently situated. Almost immediately there was a noticeable increase in the number of conversions which, by 1775, stood at 431. At approximately 1:30 a.m., on the moonlit night of November 4, 1775 more than 600 warriors from the surrounding rancherías silently crept into the mission compound. After plundering the chapel, they set the other buildings ablaze. The commotion soon awakened the two missionaries, the Spanish guards, and the Christian neophytes. Rather than run to the stock hold for shelter, Fray Jayme resolutely walked toward the howling band of natives, uttering the traditional Franciscan greeting: "Amar á Dios, hijos!"—"Love God, my children!"  The Indians seized him, stripped off his garments, shot some eighteen arrows into his torso, then pulverized his face with clubs and stones.

Jayme's mangled body was, at first, interred in the presidio chapel. When the new church at the mission was completed, the body was re-interred in the sanctuary. There it rested until November 12, 1813 when it was transferred once more. Today, the remains of Fray Luís Jayme lie in repose in a common vault between the main and side altar. He is considered to be the first Catholic martyr in Alta Californiamarker.


  1. Engelhardt, p. 63
  2. Engelhardt, p. 64
  3. Leffingwell, pp. 19, 132


  • Weber, Msgr. Francis J. (1976). "The Death of Fray Luís Jayme Two Hundredth Anniversary." The Journal of San Diego History 22 (1).

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