San Carlos Borremeo Mission

On June 3, 1770, the second Mission according to Serra’s plan, San Carlos Borremeo, was founded at Monterey. Serra himself was present and celebrated mass, at the conclusion of which Governor Portola proclaimed possession of the Bay of Monterey in the names of God and the King of Spain. The celebration of mass, the burning of incense, the ringing of bells (in this case hung from the branches of a tree), the chanting of “Veni Creator,” and the blessing of the adjacent waters and land, with the formal proclamation of proprietorship in the names of God and the King, constituted the usual ceremony incident to the founding of a Mission.

The chime of bells was ever an important feature with the padres in the founding and life of a Mission. These bells were brought from Spain, and were of the best Castile metal and workmanship. Their tones called the Indians to assemble at the Mission, and marked the hours for labor. By the melodies which they chimed the padres and their Indian followers chanted hymns of praise and songs of thanksgiving. Serra often said that he would have their ringing sound heard from the mountains to the sea, as it was God’s invitation to the souls of heathen men and women to flee to Him and escape the wrath to come. These bells were of silver and bronze and other metallic mixtures, to give variety to their tones.

San Carlos was the home Mission of Serra. For seventeen years he labored among the Missions, founding, advising, and encouraging; and when he at last returned, worn out with advancing years, he came but to die, with becoming honors, nature and noble soul, of his fellow-man.

His end came peacefully on the twenty-eighth of August 1784, and he was buried at San Carlos, by the side of his life-long friend, Padre Crespi. His was a fine and he had devoted his life unselfishly and exhausted his energies for the well-being was issued in 1845, San Carlos was already considered an abandoned Mission. The priest in charge resided at Monterey, and though a sale of the property was ordered, there remained but little of value to dispose of in this manner. From that time until 1882 San Carlos remained an untenanted ruin; but in that year the work of restoration was begun, and two years later the Mission was rededicated. Both of the church buildings-the one in Monterey and the one on the site of the old Mission in the Carmelo Valley represent the finest type of Mission architecture.

Return to: The Missions of California and the Old Southwest

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