The Famous Missions of California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 58 pages of information about The Famous Missions of California.
and his companions finally reached Malaga, whence they proceeded first to Cadiz, and then, after some delay, to Vera Cruz.  The voyage across from Cadiz alone occupied ninety-nine days, though of these, fifteen were spent at Porto Rico, where Father Junipero improved the time by establishing a mission.  Hardships were not lacking; for water and food ran short, and the vessel encountered terrific storms.  But “remembering the end for which they had come,” the father “felt no fear, and his own buoyancy did much to keep up the flagging spirits of those about him.  Even when Vera Cruz was reached, the terrible journey was by no means over, for a hundred Spanish leagues lay between that port and the City of Mexico.  Too impatient to wait for the animals and wagons which had been promised for transportation, but which, through some oversight or blunder, had not yet arrived in Vera Cruz, Junipero set out to cover the distance on foot.  The strain brought on an ulcer in one of his legs, from which he suffered all the rest of his life; and it is highly probable that he would have died on the road but for the quite unexpected succor which came to him more than once in the critical hour.  This, according to his wont, he did not fail to refer directly to the special favour of the Virgin and St. Joseph.

For nearly nineteen years after his arrival in Mexico, Junipero was engaged in active missionary work, mainly among the Indians of the Sierra Gorda, whom he successfully instructed in the first principles of the Catholic faith and in the simpler arts of peace.  Then came his selection as general head, or president, of the Missions of California, the charge of which, on the expulsion of the Jesuits, in 1768, had passed over to the Franciscans.  These, thirteen in number, were all in Lower California, for no attempt had as yet been made to evangelize the upper province.  This, however, the indefatigable apostle was now to undertake by co-operating with Jose de Galvez in his proposed northwest expedition[1].  Junipero was now fifty-five years of age, and could look back upon a career of effort and accomplishment which to any less active man might well seem to have earned repose for body and mind.  Yet great as his services to church and civilization had been in the past, by far the most important part of his life-work still lay before him.

[1] In the sequel, it may here be noted, the Franciscans ceded Baja California to the Dominicans, keeping Alta California to themselves.


As a result of the conference between Galvez and Father Junipero, it was decided that their joint expedition should be sent out in two portions — one by sea and one by land; the land portion being again sub-divided into two, in imitation, Palou informs us, of the policy of the patriarch Joseph, “so that if one came to misfortune, the other might still be saved.”  It was arranged that four missionaries should go into

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The Famous Missions of California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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