Friday, November 29, 2019

Jesuit Gold in the Superstition Mountains

                                                                                  Arizona Gold

Although the story of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine is the best known of the treasure legends in the Superstitions, there are others.  One of these legends involves the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), a Roman Catholic order of priests founded by St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and others in 1534, to do missionary work (and to act as the “shock troops” of the Pope during the Counter-Reformation). 

When the Spanish arrived in Arizona they set about building missions.  Most of these missions were built near highly mineralized regions.  When gold and silver were discovered, the priests set converted Indians, both Pima and Papago, to working the rich deposits.  The precious metals were stored in the missions in the form of gold and silver ingots (so the legend says).  The great Pima Revolt of 1751 temporarily drove the Jesuits out of the area.  Missions were burned, and priests were killed.  Fleeing priests decided to hide their gold and silver in mines located deep in the surrounding mountains.  The mines were then carefully concealed.  Other treasures hoards were deposited in caves. It is said that Jesuit missionaries led two hundred and forty gold-laden mules across southern Arizona into the barren mountains, stashing their riches somewhere among the bluffs, caves and canyons of the Superstition Mountains.

A variation of this story says that the Jesuits did not hide their treasure because of Indian revolts but because of the expulsion of the Jesuits by the Spanish crown in 1767.  The Jesuits were a rich order, accumulating wealth not only by mining but by raising enormous herds of cattle, horses, mules, burros, sheep and by raising crops.  These commodities were sold to the miners and settlers.  The wealth of the Jesuits was used for display to overawe Indian converts.  Churches, so the thinking went, needed the allure and shining examples of gold and silver to give testament to the magnificence and power of God.

The Jesuits were often as concerned with power and politics as they were with piety, which lead to their expulsion in country after county in Europe. Due to Jesuit involvement in rebellions in Portugal, they were expelled from all of Portugal's lands around the world on July 6, 1758.  Due to their political intriguing, the Jesuits were expelled from France and its holding in November 1763.  The Jesuits had reason to think that they were likely to be expelled from Spain and the Spanish empire, so the legend says, and took steps to hide their wealth.  The Jesuit treasures were safely tucked away somewhere near Weaver’s Needle in the Superstitions just in the nick of time.  The Jesuits were expelled from Spain in 1767, and all of their property seized. Unfortunately, no one seems to know exactly where the Jesuit treasures were tucked away.  


Arizona’s Superstition Mountains are mysterious, forbidding, and dangerous.  The Superstitions are said to have claimed over five hundred lives.  What were these people looking for?  Is it possible that these mountains hide a vast treasure?  Is it possible that UFOs land here?  Is it possible that in these mountains there is a door leading to the great underground city of the Lizard Men?  Join Josh, a skeptical journalist, as he explores the mysteries of the Superstition Mountains in our new fiction book Death and Delusion in the Superstition Mountains.

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