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Portola's Cross

 
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monterey
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Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Posts: 381
Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:26 pm    Post subject: Portola's Cross Reply with quote

On July 14, 1769, Gaspar de Portola, Governor of Lower California, at the head of a party of sixty-five persons, set out from San Diego to rediscover Monterey. He arrived there, but failing to identify the place, merely erected a cross and proceeded on his way north. That cross inspired Bret Harte to write the following poem:

Pious Portola, journeying by land,
Reared high a cross upon the heathen strand,
Then far away Dragged his slow caravan to Monterey.

The mountains whispered to the valley's "good!"
The sun, slow sinking in the western flood,
Baptized in blood The holy standard of the Brotherhood.

The timid fog crept in across the sea,
Drew near, embraced it, and streamed far and free,
Saying: "O ye Gentiles and Heathen, this is truly He."

All this the Heathen saw; and when once more
The Holy Fathers touched the lonely shore—
Then covered o'er With shells and gifts—the cross their witness bore.

From Tuthill's History of California, we quote:

"The Indians, as Viscaino had predicted, were ready converts, and under those dark Monterey pines told of the great cross that was planted by Portola before he knew he was at the spot he courted; that when their superstitious dread wore off they had approached, planted arrows and feathers in the earth around the cross, and hung strings of shells and sardines, as their choicest offering upon its arms."
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