Mission San Carlos at Monterey

mission san carlos

Following a year of journey and hardship after founding Mission San Diego in 1769, Father Junipero Serra, other missionary priests, and soldiers gathered at Monterey Bay to witness the formal ceremony of the placement of the Holy Cross that marked the founding of the 2nd Franciscan mission, to be called Mission San Carlos de Monterey Borromeo, near the earlier-established Monterey Presidio (fort). This was on June 3, 1770; but because some of the soldiers at the Presidio were treating the native Indians badly—implicating Father Serra as the source of their unhappiness—he moved the mission to its present location in Carmel on August 24, 1771, a site that was also closer to fresh water, and better land for growing crops. The early years were difficult, while the priests mostly depended on ships from Mexico for their supplies. The first church edifice and dwellings were made of wood and mud, later replaced with adobe structures. Father Junipero Serra died there in 1784, true to his vow of poverty: his only possessions were a cot, a blanket, one table, one chair, a chest, a candlestick, and a gourd. He is buried in the Mission sanctuary. His successor Father Fermin de Lasuen continued his work, building the stone church that stands today. Beginning in the 1930s, the mission structures were renovated or restored. The name San Carlos de Borromeo de Carmelo commemorates St. Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan and Papal Secretary under Pius IV.

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