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Catholic Dictionary




The communal mission villages established in South America by Jesuit missionaries from 1609 to the expulsion of the Society of Jesus from Spanish colonies in 1767. The native Indians filled the villages that were chosen for their healthful climate and proximity to waterways. The plan of a village was square, with the streets running in straight lines. In the center was the church. The missionaries taught the people, managed the community, and fostered the common arts, agriculture, and cattle raising. After their destruction a fable grew up concerning their wealth, which was supposed to have been hidden by the missionaries. The reductions were never restored.