Francisco Ximénez

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"[Here] begin the histories of the origin of the Indians of this province of Guatemala. Translated from the Quiché language into Castillian for the convenience of the ministers of the holy gospel by the R[everend] P[adre] F[riar] Francísco Ximénez, doctrinal priest of the royal council of Santo Tomás Chilá."

Francísco Ximénez (November 28, 1666 – c.1729) was a Dominican priest who is known for his conservation of an indigenous Maya narrative known today as Popol Vuh. There is, as Woodruff has noted, little biographical data about Ximénez.[1] Aside from the year, his birth and baptismal records do not agree on the actual date of his birth, and the year of his death is less certain, either in late 1729 or early 1730. He enrolled in seminary in Spain and arrived in the New World in 1688, where he completed his novitiate.

Father Ximénez's sacerdotal service began in 1691 in San Juan Sacatepéquez and San Pedro de las Huertas where he learned Cakchiquel. In December 1693, Ximénez began serving as the Doctrinero of San Pedro de las Huertas. He continued in this office for at least ten years during which time he was transferred to Santo Tomás Chichicastenango (also known as Chuilá) from 1701-1703. Father Ximénez was also the curate of Rabinal from 1704 through 1714 and further served as the Vicario and Predicador-General of the same district as early as 1705.

Ximénez's time in Santo Tomás Chichicastennago from 1701 to 1703 is probably when he transcribed and translated the Popol Vuh (see image to right — note also that Ximénez does not give it its modern title). Later on in 1715, Ximénez included a monolingual redaction in his commissioned Historia de la provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y Gvatemala. Father Ximénez has two other known writings, Primera parte de el tesoro de las lengvas 3a3chiquel Qviche y 4,vtvhil and Historia natural del Reino de Guatemala.[2]


  1. "There is very little biographical information on Father Ximénez. The information presented here is compiled from Rodríguez Cabal, Ximénez’s own Historia de la provincia, and Tedlock" (Woodruff 12).
  2. Note that the Parra characters for the tresillo and quartillo have been approximated with Arabic numerals.


Rodríguez Cabal, Juan. Apuntes para la vida del m.r.p. presentado y predicador general fr. Francisco Ximénez, O.P. Guatemala: Tipografía Nacional, 1935.
Tedlock, Dennis. Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life. Revised ed. New York: Simon, 1996.
Woodruff, John M. "Synthesizing Popol Vuh" (dissertation chapter). The "most futile and vain" Work of Father Francisco Ximénez: Rethinking the Context of Popol Vuh. U Alabama. Retrieved 3 Dec 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Ximénez, Francisco. Historia de la provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala de la orden de predicadores. Ed. Carmelo Sáenz de Santa María. 2 vols. Mexico: Consejo Estatal para la Cultura y las Artes de Chiapas, 1999.

Other Readings

Schumacher, Gudrun; Gregor Wolff (November 2004). Nachlässe, Manuskripte, und Autographen im Besitz des IAI (PDF online document). Abteilung 2, Referat 1: Nachlässe und Sondersammlungen (in Deutsch). Berlin: Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, Preußischer Kulturbesitz. OCLC 162302418. Retrieved 2008-04-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>