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Carmel Mission Functions

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:26 pm    Post subject: Carmel Mission Functions Reply with quote

AT THE OUTSET, let US understand the meaning of "Mission" in the Alta California sense. Many today understand it to be an old church, since what they see at most of the Missions is little more than a church. Or, if the remains of aqueducts, orchards, vineyards, mills, tanning vats, reservoirs, schools, shops and monasteries still survive, attention is not usually directed toward them by the guides, who, all too often, are incredibly dull and uninformed.

So, in order to follow Father Serra in the development of his plans, we must know something about his plan, fully developed before he left Mexico, and upon which Don Jose de Galvez had set his seal of approval. It had succeeded famously at Serra's Sierra Gorda Mission (Mexico), where the old plan had miserably failed. And the old plan was failing in Baja California.

The plan embraced two objectives: First, the Christianization of the Indians; second, the training of the natives in the simple arts of civilization, that they might develop ultimately into Spanish citizens. The plan involved, then, not only the teaching of Christian principles, but undertook direction of the daily life of the neophyte, waking and sleeping, that he be taught, housed, fed and clothed at the Mission establishment. The old plan, instead, brought the neophyte daily to the Mission from his ranchetia for instruction, returning him at evening to his pagan environment. Obviously unsound psychologically.

Thus, when presenting himself at Carmel to embrace Christianity, the Indian was assured of three meals a day, a permanent shelter of his own design, and clothing—pants, shirt and a blanket—and at five o'clock, play and prayer. These were regulated by the church bells. His leisure was his own. What he produced from his labors was communal property—his and his fellows' under the laws of Spain—land, crops, cattle, everything that grew, or was created, through his labors. The old story about the padres owning the Mission lands is stupid. The records are clear on that point. Source evidence to the contrary is easily obtainable. The padres merely stood in the relation of parent to the Indians, that and no more. All a Franciscan, leaving his Mission, could, or did take, were his habit, his breviary, rosary, and—if he were a liberal—a few books.

Thus runs the plan that underlay the whole Mission system in Alta California, and the plan the United States Government adopted in its relation with the Indians a century later—thougth rarely followed with Franciscan unselfishness.

After two years of patient labor at Carmel, the Padre Prestdente relates the building accomplishment at the Capital Mission thus:

"A stockade of rough timbers, thick and high, with ravelins in the corners, is something more than seventy vatas long and forty-three wide, and is closed at night with a key, although it is not secure because of the lack of nails. The main house is seven vatas wide and fifty long. It is divided into six rooms, all with doors and locks. The walls are constructed of rough timbers plastered over with mud, both inside and out. Those of the principal rooms are whitewashed with lime. One of the rooms serves provisionally for a church. [Church No. 1.]

"Near this building, on the outside, is the guardhouse or barracks for the soldiers; and adjoining it, their kitchen. All is enclosed in the stockade. All of these buildings have flat roofs of clay and mud, and for the most of them a kitchen has been made. There are various little houses for the Indians, with straw or hay roofs. Attention was later given to a small garden, which is near at hand, but for want of a gardener, it has made little progress."

In 1774, a good workshop was put up, thirty by seven vatas, of adobe and palisades, with a thatched roof. Likewise, in the same year, two houses for the families of two married Indian servants. Then the surgeon and his family had the best house yet built in the country—two rooms and a bedroom. Medicine was a good profession in California, even thus early.

The smith, an important member of pioneering communities, was housed comfortably with his family, as was the captain of the Mission guard. And near the main kitchen, a large oven of adobe was set up for baking bread for the establishment, with several smaller ones for the married Indians. The Mission family, you see, was beginning to grow, and beginning to enjoy the Spaniards. cooked foods.

For several years after Serra made the above report (one for the College of San Fernando, Mexico, one for the government, and a third for the local archives) few building facts are recorded; but from reports of later years, it is reasonable to suppose the building program proceeded as the needs grew.

By now, fields were being tilled by the neophytes; orchards planted and tended; and cattle herded by the younger Indians were roaming the hills. Flocks of sheep were increasing rapidly, inducing the government to send a weaver to teach the Indians the art of making cloth. More about him later. Stonemasons were likewise imported to teach the Indians the age-old art of building stone on stone.
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