The Missions: Number 2

A year after founding Mission San Diego in 1769, Father Junipero Serra, other missionary priests, and soldiers gathered at Monterey Bay to witness the formal ceremony to erect the Holy Cross near the earlier-established Monterey Presidio. This ceremony on June 3, 1770, marked the beginning of the second Franciscan mission, to be named Mission San Carlos de Monterey Borromeo. But because some of the soldiers at the Presidio were treating the native Indians badly, Father Serra moved the mission to its present location in Carmel on August 24, 1771, a site that was closer to fresh water, and also had better land for growing crops. The early years were difficult, because 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. Secularized in 1834, the mission was returned to the church in 1859. Beginning in the 1930s, various structures were renovated or restored; however, Mission San Carlos is the only Spanish mission in California that has its original bell and bell tower. 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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