Fray Miguel de Añon had been in Georgia only two years (his brown Franciscan habit looks almost new compared to that of his confrere, Fray Blas) and would have been around the age of thirty-three. He had come from the Spanish Convento Santa Victoria and was a cultured man, the son of a nobleman. But he chose to become a devoted son of St. Francis, and therefore, renounced his father’s fortune.
Padre Miguel seemed to be a man of destiny. He had been put in charge of Mission Santa Catalina, the oldest and largest mission to the Guale. He had great plans for its development: a fortified town with palisades and plazas, two wells, two white churches, a convent, and a great plaza. A bronze bell tolled to draw the Guale to prayers. So prosperous was the Mission Santa Catalina that Spain had considered moving Florida’s capital there from St. Augustine. The Mission was seen more and more as the mother mission of what would eventually become dozens of missions to the Guale people.
With his own hands, Padre Miguel had erected the great cross at Mission Santa Catalina, hardly suspecting he would so soon be buried at its base. The padre was still getting to know the Guale; when he preached, he still relied on a translator (Fray Antonio de Badajoz), but the Guale clearly respected Fray Miguel. The local chief had even warned him and the others about the approach-ing war party, but the dedicated friars chose to stay at their posts at the mission. It might have had something to do with the liturgy for that day, September 17th, the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis. The Gospel reading for the Feast included the words, “Whosoever loses his life for my sake will gain it.”