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The Old Franciscan Missions Of California By George Wharton James Characters: 3041

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Before leaving San Carlos it will be well to explain the facts in regard to the Mission church at Monterey. Many errors have been perpetuated about this church. There is little doubt but that originally the Mission was established here, and the first church built on this site. But as I have elsewhere related, Padre Serra found it unwise to have the Indians and the soldiers too near together.

In the establishment of the Missions, the presidios were founded to be a means of protection to the padres in their work of civilizing and Christianizing the natives. These presidios were at San Diego, Monterey, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara. Each was supposed to have its own church or chapel, and the original intention was that each should likewise have its own resident priest. For purposes of economy, however, this was not done, and the Mission padres were called upon for this service, though it was often a source of disagreement between the military and the missionaries. While the Monterey church that occupied the site of the present structure may, in the first instance, have been used by Serra for the Mission, it was later used as the church for the soldiers, and thus became the presidio chapel. I have been unable to learn when it was built but about fifty years ago Governor Pacheco donated the funds for its enlargement. The original building was extended back a number of feet, and an addition made, which makes the church of cruciform shape, the original building being the long arm of the cross. Th

e walls are built of sandstone rudely quarried at the rear of the church. It is now the parish church of Monterey.

Here are a large number of interesting relics and memorials of Serra and the early Mission days. The chief of these is a reliquary case, made by an Indian at San Carlos to hold certain valuable relics which Serra highly prized. Some of these are bones from the Catacombs, and an Agnus Dei of wax. Serra himself wrote the list of contents on a slip of paper, which is still intact on the back of the case. This reliquary used to be carried in procession by Serra on each fourth of November, and is now used by Father Mestris in like ceremonials.





In the altar space or sanctuary are five chairs, undoubtedly brought to California by one of the Philippine galleons from one of those islands, or from China. The bodies are of teak, ebony, or ironwood, with seats of marble, and with a disk of marble in the back.

In the sacristy is the safe in which Serra used to keep the sacred vessels, as well as the important papers connected with his office. It is an interesting object, sheeted with iron, wrapped around with iron bands and covered all over with bosses. It is about three feet wide and four feet high. In the drawers close by are several of the copes, stoles, maniples, and other vestments which were once used by Serra at the old Mission.

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