ESPEJO-BELTRÁN EXPEDITION. The glowing accounts of the new discoveries made by the Rodríguez-Sánchez expedition of 1581–82 spread rapidly throughout the northern frontier of the viceroyalty of New Spain, fired imaginations, and stimulated activity. Moreover, in Santa Bárbara there was the greatest concern for the safety of Fray Agustín Rodríguez and Fray Francisco López, the two Franciscans who had remained in New Mexico to continue their missionary work. In Santa Bárbara a Franciscan named Bernardino Beltrán sought authority to send a rescue mission to New Mexico, and he began to search for a suitable leader to command the military escort. Residing in Santa Bárbara at this time was Antonio de Espejo, a wealthy fugitive from justice accused of murder, who had taken refuge on the frontier and was looking for an opportunity to exonerate himself. Espejo therefore offered his services to Fray Beltrán and agreed to join an expedition to rescue the two friars and to pay all expenses.
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