Photography

Behind the Mother of California Missions


A Quiet Place

This is another in the series of Missions of California shot inside the small Chapel behind the main edifice of San Diego de Alcalá Mission in San Diego, California. This is a very quaint and endearing place to pay respect. It shows the true history and intimacy of the earlier days of this Mission. Missions were not funded by the Government, and often less by the Church and had to fend for themselves in this new territory.

The goal of the Missions was, above all, to become self-sufficient in relatively short order. Farming, therefore, was the most important industry of any mission. Prior to the establishment of the missions, the native people knew only how to utilize bone, seashells, stone, and wood for building, tool making, weapons, and so forth. The missionaries discovered that the Indians, who regarded labor as degrading to the masculine sex, had to be taught industry in order to learn how to be self-supportive. The result was the establishment of a great manual training school that comprised agriculture, the mechanical arts, and the raising and care of livestock. Everything consumed and otherwise utilized by the natives was produced at the missions under the supervision of the Padres ; thus, the neophytes not only supported themselves, but after 1811 sustained the entire military and civil government of California. Wheat. corn, wine grapes, barley, beans, cattle, horses, and sheep were the major crops at San Diego. In 1795, construction on a system of aqueducts was begun to bring water to the fields and the Mission (the first irrigation project in Upper California). The building manager was Fray Pedro Panto, who was poisoned by his Indian cook Nazario before the project was completed.

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