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sargentodiaz

Aug 16, 2015, 10:38 AM

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Franciscan Missionaries - Who Were These Men?

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As Pope Francis' visit here to the USA nears where he will conduct the ceremony to canonize Reverend Father Serra, I think it's time to tell you all what it was that got me so interested in Father Serra and the friars he led.

One thing that bugged me for years was hearing politically correct types spout about how the cruel Catholic priests enslaved the pristine, innocent Indians, covering their backs with blood as they forced them to toil in their fields. I remember time spent in the county museum, Mission San Gabriel, Olvera Street, and other historical spots in Southern California and that was NOT what those places told me about that time.

The first individual who stood out in my research was Father Junipero Serra, a simple man from a small farm village who took vows of poverty in the Order Minor of Friars of Saint Francisco de Asis. He did not seem to be the kind of person who would enslave anybody, even as he became firm in his beliefs and goals. That was the “politically correct” version I heard and read in so-called “history books” and was indoctrinated about in school. In fact, as he showed in his efforts to found the five missions in the Sierra Gorda region of Mexico, he treated his disciples as if they were his children – an outlook of his order and his own.

How did his small, often ill man manage to lead an effort to explore unknown lands, deal with Stone Age people, and toil to create self-sufficient entities to feed and clothe those who came to the church, as well as supplying the soldiers?

I think the most amazing thing about these missionaries – of whatever order, Jesuit. Franciscan, or Dominican – were their amazing abilities to do the most astonishing things.

Visit one of their missions some time and step inside the chapel.

How did a man from a small farm village learn to teach Stone Age savages who never tilled a field or built more than the crudest shelter of intertwined sticks and mud to create something like this?

Think about it. He had to envision the final product, find a place to site it, lay out the foundations, show the Indians how to cut the stone for the floors and make the sun-dried bricks for the walls. He had to find, cut down, form, and haul to the site the timber needed for the roof. He had to find the materials for making the tiles on the roof. How did he come up with the form of the arches? Or where to place the pulpit – and how to climb into it? How did he teach the natives to create the intricate wood carvings and the intricate art work? How did he teach one or more of them the art of carpentry to make something simple like the pews or intricate like the wall behind the altar?

And how on earth did he teach them to build this?

And remember, this is the ruins after the mission was taken away from the Franciscans. Before then, it had orchards and gardens that needed water. They had to survey the land, determine where and how to build a dam, lay out the irrigation ditches that brought that water miles to where it was needed, and control that water. He had to have a knowledge of plants and how to insure good crops – again teaching it to those who had no idea that such arts existed.

How about livestock? California Indians – like most North American natives, knew nothing of horses, mules, or donkeys. They had no idea about raising cattle for meat, leather, and milk. Goats. Pigs. Even chickens. All new, strange creatures. And the natives at missions like San Gabriel became some of the finest vaqueros anywhere, herding thousands of head of horses and cattle.

Weaving looms where wool was carded, dyed, woven into intricate and beautiful patterns.

Chandleries where suet was turned into beautiful candles.

How about smithies for forming metal? Or carpentry shops? Or tanning vats where rawhides were turned into fine leather and then formed into a wide variety of intricately decorated items such as saddles and boots?

Yeah, the natives did the work. But who taught and showed them how?

Would you think to graft wild California grapes to those brought from Europe? And then how to turn it into sacramental wine? How about growing olive trees and then pressing the fruit into oil?

The friars at Mission San Gabriel needed a bell with a tone that would carry far to call the native cowboys to prayer. They did not have the bronze or wherewithal to form one of metal to they took a huge piece of wood and achingly carved it into a bell.

(These images are available on the blog)

Looks easy, doesn't it? Would you know exactly how to shape it so it wouldn't crack and have the needed sound?

And while doing all this, they had to learn the various languages and varieties of a people who only knew words for things they could see, hear, touch, and smell. How to teach the existence of God or The Holy Spirit to people who never thought beyond the death they knew was coming from birth? Father Serra and the other missionaries compiled extensive dictionaries of the various Indian language, struggling to translate those words and ideas into the mysteries of the Roman Catholic bible and teachings.

Oh yeah. And who taught the Indians how to cook? Other than spitting wood rats, gophers, rabbits and other creatures over an open fire, they had no idea of roasting or cooking things in a pot. As they didn't even know how to raise corn or other grains, there was no way they knew how to prepare masa for the flat bread called tortillas they ate at every meal. And consider the pots and other crockery. Who showed them how to make them? And dye them such beautiful colors?

Surveyor. Architect. Mason. Brick layer. Carpenter. Potter. Blacksmith. Chandler. Weaver. Dyer. Interpreter. Animal husbandry. Veterinarian. Medical doctor when possible.

This, with more and images is from http://msgdaleday.blogspot.com

For Information about Antigua y Nueva California, check out my blog, Father Serra's Legacy @ http://msgdaleday.blogspot.com

(This post was edited by tonyburton on Aug 16, 2015, 11:25 AM)



cbviajero

Aug 16, 2015, 11:46 AM

Post #2 of 6 (5713 views)

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Re: [sargentodiaz] Franciscan Missionaries - Who Were These Men?

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Oh yeah. And who taught the Indians how to cook? Other than spitting wood rats, gophers, rabbits and other creatures over an open fire, they had no idea of roasting or cooking things in a pot. As they didn't even know how to raise corn or other grains,

Mexicans have been growing corn for about 7000 years..
.


(This post was edited by cbviajero on Aug 16, 2015, 1:07 PM)


chicois8

Aug 16, 2015, 2:46 PM

Post #3 of 6 (5680 views)

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Re: [cbviajero] Franciscan Missionaries - Who Were These Men?

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In Reply To


Oh yeah. And who taught the Indians how to cook? Other than spitting wood rats, gophers, rabbits and other creatures over an open fire, they had no idea of roasting or cooking things in a pot. As they didn't even know how to raise corn or other grains,

Mexicans have been growing corn for about 7000 years..
.


Correct,but Father Serra taught them how to hecho a mano, lol
Rincon de Guayabitos,Nayarit
San Mateo, California


rvgringo

Aug 16, 2015, 3:14 PM

Post #4 of 6 (5676 views)

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Re: [cbviajero] Franciscan Missionaries - Who Were These Men?

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Those indigenous folk did quite well for many thousands of years before the Conquistadores arrived and spread their conflicting ideas and diseases. They knew intricate stonework, carving, pottery, weaving, and amazing culinary skills. It is true that some were experiencing hard times after a civilization destroying period of drought some 200 years earlier, but the surviving people were not helpless and were certainly not the “savages“ you describe.
Ugh!


sargentodiaz

Aug 17, 2015, 10:18 AM

Post #5 of 6 (5642 views)

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Re: [rvgringo] Franciscan Missionaries - Who Were These Men?

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You are all correct. Maize was developed as a major crop in the Valley of Mexico and spread throughout the Americas.

However, I was referring to California natives of both Baja and Alta California. They had no crops at all, not even wild maize that might've come to the accidentally.

And, unlike the vast majority of other natives all over the continents, they had no beliefs about gods or other mythical beings with no consideration about what happens when they die. Their life consisted of being dropped on the ground at birth, spending every waking minute searching for food, and dying - often left behind by their family as they were a burden.

If you consider that a pristine life, I sorrow.
For Information about Antigua y Nueva California, check out my blog, Father Serra's Legacy @ http://msgdaleday.blogspot.com


sargentodiaz

Jan 28, 2016, 1:36 PM

Post #6 of 6 (4625 views)

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Re: [sargentodiaz] Franciscan Missionaries - Who Were These Men?

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In doing some housekeeping, I came across some posts about the missions that were in the wrong blog. So, I've brought them up to day and posted the first on Father Serra's Legacy. I hope you enjoy and I'd appreciate a click on a box at the bottom of the post as to what your reaction is.

Thanks.http://msgdaleday.blogspot.com
For Information about Antigua y Nueva California, check out my blog, Father Serra's Legacy @ http://msgdaleday.blogspot.com
 
 
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