Antonio Margil de Jesus was born in Valencia, Spain, on August 18, 1657. As a young boy, Margil expressed his desire to become a Franciscan. On April 22, 1673, he received the order's habit at La Corona de Cristo in Valencia. Then at the age of twenty-five, he received Holy Orders and soon accepted the challenge of missionary work in New Spain. He also spent time as a missionary in Yucatán, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. After a brief illness in early 1716, he traveled to East Texas to set up Franciscan missions. When he arrived in July, Margil supervised the founding of Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores and San Miguel de Los Adaes. Then in February of 1720, he founded at San Antonio, the most successful of all Texas missions, San José y San Miguel de Aguayo. Even though his career in Texas was short, he is one of the most famous missionaries to serve in Texas. 
The Fray Antonio Margil de Jesus statue is located on the grounds of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Nacogdoches, Texas (2508 Appleby Sand Road). The statue's dedication was in 1976, and Hispanic artist Antonio Mendoza sculpted the bronze statue.