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SLOJX Serra Interview IISEE BELOW An Interview with Junipero Serra II Edited by Joseph A. Carotenuti Recently found documents included several lengthy interviews with Junipero Serra who was superior of the missions from 1769 to 1784. Editor comments are in italics. Last time, you were to tell of a miracle at San Diego in 1770. It was truly a miracle! Recall supplies were at a minimum, illness and deaths continued, and the natives kept away. Portola finally decided we needed to leave no later than March 19. Terrible news! My confreres and I prayed a novena to the expedition’s patron St. Joseph. (A novena is nine days of special prayers.) Crespi and I had already decided we would stay. On the ninth day, in the distance we spied the San Antonio in the distance. Captain Juan Perez - a Mallorcan as I – returned after months away with supplies and more men. We were saved!! Obviously, Portola changed his mind. Indeed he did, especially after the vessel brought letters from Galvez. The visitor general made it clear he expected us to settle in Monterey. So we once again prepared to leave. Portola gathered the men, including poor Padre Crespi, and headed north. I have reread my letters of the time and I was determined not to miss this journey. However, I went by sea since the Captain thought it would be easier. It may have been, but it was longer. We left on April 16 and when we dropped anchor in Monterey at the end of May, the land expedition had already been there a week. It was truly a joyous occasion and I celebrated Mass under the same tree described by Vizcaino’s chaplain some 175 years before. (Vizcaino had explored and named the bay in 1602) We also had the first burial as a poor sailor died during the sea voyage. This was also the founding of the second mission as well? Yes. The soldiers built a very rudimentary presidio. The storeroom was also used as a chapel and was dedicated to our patron St. Joseph on June 3. The site was temporary as having soldiers close to the natives did not help our spiritual efforts. The next year, we moved to this spot with a better water source. Portola had accomplished his mission and returned to Mexico in August. I was saddened by his departure, as he was a fine soldier as well as a good Christian. I never saw him again. (Upon his return, Portola was appointed governor of Puebla and returned to his home in S pain dying there in 1784.) Captain Pedro Fages became commandante. He is a valiant military leader but has caused the friars great grief. So, what happened after Monterey was claimed for God and King. We were allowed to establish more missions. I had begged my Superior for more missionaries with the proviso that all be prepared for many and dire hardships. And – a most glorious day – ten arrived in the summer (1771). They replaced my sick confreres leaving San Diego. There were now personnel for four missions. The Viceroy even provided the names. That must have been an overwhelming task. Did it happen as you planned? Almost. First, I traveled to a beautiful valley of oaks with Padres Sijar and Pieras and San Antonio was born on July 14. In the meanwhile, two new missionaries - Angel Somera and Pedro Cambon - founded San Gabriel the following September. I was most anxious for one in between San Diego and Monterey. But it was not to be. Commandant Fages promised our founding San Buenaventura but he changed his mind as we traveled south a year later. (The eighth mission was Serra’s last… founded in 1882). Yes, the famous bear hunt. Were you involved in that? Not quite. While we now had more friars, there were even fewer supplies. Everyone was very hungry. With less food we were unable to baptize and then care for our new wards. Fages remembered the bears from the two overland trips with Portola. He went with Sergeant Carrillo and a few men on a dangerous hunt for los osos. They had to barter with the natives for seeds. The bears left and soon the men were trading their clothes for food. Nonetheless, starvation was kept away for a short time. Fortunately, word arrived that two ships had anchored in San Diego with supplies. Fages decided to ride south in the hopes of convincing the captains to sail north. Trying to pack mule the supplies overland was not a satisfactory solution as the poor beasts could hardly move. I went with him as I needed to fulfill my duties as superior…and make my first land trip. That’s right. You had never traveled Alta by land. Yes, while I have made seven such trips so far, the first was most wonderful. I was able to see the land and, especially, the natives at various spots. Best of all, we were able to found the mission dedicated to our French bishop confrere, San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. (St. Louis, Bishop of Tolouse. Saint names used for California missions were Franciscans.) That was on September 1, 1772. I could only leave padre Joseph Cavaller, a few men and supplies. It was more on faith than reason we found the mission. It was almost still born. How did you pick the spot? There was little time to explore. Fages was determined to reach San Diego quickly. I actually relied on his suggestions as he had spent time in the valley and Crespi’s had compiled a list of potential mission sites. It proved a good choice. We have moved the first four missions but the holy bishop has remained firm. What happened to San Buenaventura? You must have passed the site it currently occupies. You are correct. I was promised we would stop on the return trip, but I was obligated instead to make a last trip back to Mexico City. However, I must humbly excuse myself as I must prepare for Mass. 1006 AN INTERVIEW WITH JUNIPERO SERRA II (early version) Edited by Joseph A. Carotenuti Recently found documents included several lengthy interviews with Junipero Serra who was superior of the missions from 1769 to 1784. This interview continues the first year (1769). Editor comments are in italics. Serra: Everyone was discouraged. Portola had missed finding the bay of Monterey. I was distressed but our novena brought the San Antonio back. (The vessel had returned to New Spain months before for men and provisions.) We now could continue! Within a few weeks, poor Padre Crespi was again trudging over the land to the north. Portola directed I was to sail with San Antonio. As it worked out, it was faster by mule than ship. Interviewer: You arrived in the Monterey Bay and immediate established another mission. Serra: You are very kind to describe our efforts as a mission. The soldiers erected the presidio as well as could be expected and a room became both a chapel and storeroom. The Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Monterey was dedicated on June 3, 1770. Obviously, I knew we needed to move on and explored the countryside. There was a beautiful site next to the River Carmelo but it was almost a year before we could move. So, the second mission dedicated to the great Saint Charles Borromeo was blessed on _______------: Today, the one in Monterey is the official presidio chapel. But I am jumping ahead. While waiting, the Superior sent 10 friars from the Collegio. I remember the joy, but I had cautioned him as to new missionaries. I have a copy of the letter. I wrote: XXXXXXXXxx. Ten confreres had been selected for the 10 year assignment. We could finally expend our preaching. Fathers XXX and XXX were sent to establish a mission dedicated to the great archangel Gabriel and I did the same for the great Franciscan saint Anthony. Interviewer: So the two missions San Gabriel and San Antonio were founded at the same time? Serra: Almost. San Antonio on July 14 and San Gabriel the following September 8, 1771. in the meanwhile, we had started preparing for the new settlement near the Carmel river in ??? and celebrated the first Mass there on ??? I was most pleased to say the Mass under the same tree as father ??? who came with Vizcaino in 1602. Interviewer: You must have been pleased to accomplish so much in so short a time. Serra: I certainly do not want to appear in the least ungrateful to God and the friars and soldiers who worked so diligently, but my direction was to establish three missions: San Diego, Monterey (now in Carmel) and one in between. On Crespi’s first trip, he indicated some 170 potential sites so we knew there were several spots in between to link the south and the north. As it happened, it was over 10 years later that the “middle mission” was founded. (San Buenaventura was founded on March 31, 1782). In between was a demanding time with the expected delays and not a few surprises. However, with 10 friars, plus Crespi and myself, there were enough Fernandinos (nickname for men from the College of San Fernando) for 6 missions. Interviewer: Six? What did you plan to do? Serra: Well, having a Mass and dedicating a piece of ground was simply the beginning of any missionary effort. Our task was to baptize and once baptized, the new Christian became the responsibility of the pardes. Interviewer: You mean being provided religious instruction and the sacraments? 548