Saturday, October 11, 2008

Carmel Mission, November 2007

A brief visual history of Carmel Mission (where most of my ancestors are recorded, the earliest as being born about 1720, which made her about 50 years old upon baptism):

This is how the Mission looked in 1786, when a French explorer, La Perouse, visited. One or more of those Indians lined up there could very possibly be my direct ancestor. The Mission had been founded in 1770 in Monterey, but moved to Carmel in 1771 for better agricultural land and, more importantly, increased distance from the Monterey Presidio soldiers and their tendency to rape Indian women at will, something Father Serra abhored but could do little to stop.
Captain Vancouver visited the Mission in 1792; his artist contributed this sketch of a Mission most Californians wouldn't yet recognize.

I haven't been able to find an actual representation of the Mission during its heyday.


Secularization (when Mexico, post-revolution, closed the missions and recalled the Mexican priests who had replaced the Spanish priests) around 1834 continued the downward decline of all the missions, including Carmel. For a truly stunning history of this time period, see Steven Hackel's book "Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis." I wish I'd written it. Hackel's research mentions several of my direct relatives. In this photo, c. 1880, by Taber and Jackson, you can see that the roof has caved in.



Partially restored Carmel Mission (1938) and a small part of the ruins attributed to early Rosicrucian activity in 1602–1603. (Photo from the archives of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC.)

[Interestingly, against all Mission Mythology, the Rosicrucians claim that their settlement at Carmel Mission preceeded that of the Franciscans, claiming that a small group of seven Rosicrucians were aboard Vizcaíno’s ship (constructing their base 1602-1603 and occupying the site until about 1632).

Richard A. Schultz, Ph.D., F.R.C., writes, "This permanent structure contained a temple room and an underground cellar in which several chests containing papers and other ritualistic materials were deposited. H. Spencer Lewis explored the extensive ruins near Carmel Mission in May 1918 and during subsequent visits; the records relate that he discovered several Rosicrucian artifacts there, including crosses with a rose worked in coral and other materials in the center. AMORC officers repeatedly visited and examined the Carmel site through the 1930s as part of RCUI activities, ceasing only after major restoration of the mission buildings had begun."]

Another view of the Carmel Mission as renovations were just beginning.


Carmel, the day we visited. It was a Sunday; Mass was being held.






Louise crossing the courtyard; an elderly woman selling candles and religious medals for Mass inside.
The cemetery. Boy Scouts gathered bones into generic pits, circled them with found stones and abalone shells, and sometimes a cross.The cemetery continues beneath the hedge and under the houses next door.



Bones and teeth that Louise and I gathered from the ground. Gophers bring them up, the earth erodes, digging projects disturb them.
This is a pretty big bone for a gopher to bring up?! We left the remains with the Mission office, and later Louise and other tribal members returned for a reburial ceremony.


Esselen or Costanoans carved this fountainhead for the lavandera, where women did the laundry.
Bottom of the courtyard fountain.


Indigenous angel set into niche outside of church. I'm trying to determine who carved it.

The Sacristy (just outside the sanctuary) with Indian designs painted on the walls for decoration. Although the Missions eventually were very successful, in the beginning everything was scrounged and homemade. Wall paintings emerged as one way of providing decorations that, in Spain, would have been carved of marble, expensive wood, or made of gold, silver or silk. Indians took templates by the priests and gradually included more of their own designs and color schemes.


A lovely window decorated with Indian paintings. The walls are at least that thick throughout the Mission, to guard against wild Indian attacks, fire, and other natural disasters. A confessional at Carmel. In one of his letters, Fr. Serra remarks that he's having some of the Indians make a confessional from a leftover packing box sent from Spain. It was good wood, he asserted, and would make a fine confessional. I wonder if this is it? I also wonder if this is the confessional that Vicenta Gutierrez fled around 1833-36, when she came to the church to confess for Lent and was raped by Fr. Jose Suarez Real. The story is recorded by J.P. Harrington, as told by Isabel Meadows:


Translation/transliteration:
lz [Isabel Meadows] April [19]35 Vicenta Gutierrez, sister of el Huero Gutierrez, when a girl went to confession one evening during lent, & Padre Real wanted to grab her there in the church and next day he was gone from there, he was never seen again. He probably fled on horseback in the night. Some said he fled to Spain. He was a Spaniard. He grabbed the girl and screwed her. The girl went running to her house, saying the padre had grabbed her.

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