Fray Francisco de Veráscola was nicknamed “el Gigante.” He had been born into a relatively prosperous family of Basque heritage. He had arrived at the missions only two years earlier, and when the Guale boys met him, they were much impressed with this tall, broad shouldered, athletic man in his early thirties, and would coax him to join them in their football games.
Fray Francisco was a natural hunter, and despite the fact that he was a priest, the Franciscans would call upon him from time to time to be a bodyguard to visiting guests and dignitaries. He exuded strength and confidence, yet also the virtue of Christian joy. His handsome smile and gentle eyes helped the Guale trust this giant priest.
In this drawing, he has a dark stubble of beard. Our good Padre had been traveling down the low country waterways to trade with the missions to the south. The padres had to have wine and hosts to celebrate Mass, so they traded and brought things they needed up from St. Augustine. These men were rowers and would have had strong upper bodies.
Fray Francisco de Veráscola could easily have defended himself, but he did not want to harm the Guale people whom he loved. He had just returned by canoe and was about to unload the supplies for the mission, tired and happy to be home. The rebellious men attacked him by surprise, killing him as he disembarked from his journey. He had probably even waved to the assassins on the shore, but his welcome was to be a violent one.