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San Gabriel Mission in California

In the current essay we will analyze the San Gabriel Mission in California, and discuss how effectively it presents the history of California’s mission period. According to The Mission San Gabriel, “Since its founding in 1771, San Gabriel Mission has been the cornerstone of the Catholic faith in the San Gabriel Valley and a gateway to El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles. A thriving parish to this day, the Mission’s multi-ethnic community continues to be sent forth with compassion to witness to God’s loving and liberating presence.” The mission was often called the “Godmother of the Pueblo de Los Angeles”. The choice finally fell on a fertile plain just to the east on the banks of the Rio Hondo in Whittier Narrows of today’s downtown Los Angeles. In the years 1771-1834, the year was the secularization of the mission, there are over 25,000 people baptized. Nowadays, San Gabriel Mission has its messengers and followers. It is important to note that the role of the mission is important and the mission gives a chance to people to appreciate their lives and to love life.

The purpose of the mission was primarily to become self-sufficient in relatively short time. Agriculture, thus, was most important industry of any mission. Prior to the establishment of missions, the indigenous peoples knew only how to use bones, shells, stones, and timber for building, tool making, weapons, and so on. The missionaries discovered that the Indians, who considered labor humiliating for a male, had to be taught industry in order to learn to be self-supporting. The result was the creation of high school textbook, which was agriculture, handicrafts, and raising and caring for livestock. Everything consumed and otherwise utilized by the natives was produced at the missions under the direction of the Padres, thus, the neophytes not only supported themselves, but after 1811, was sustained the entire military and civil authorities of California. Also, mission bells were vitally important to daily life at any mission. Bells rang at mealtimes, to call the Mission residents to work and to religious services, during births and funerals, to signal the approach of the ship or returning missionary, and in other cases, novices were instructed in the complex rituals associated with the bells of the mission.

Now, the purpose of the mission has changed and it brings hope to people. Today, the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel is very active and busy. It sits at the intersection of Mission Boulevard and Junipero Serra Avenue in the City of San Gabriel. The intersection also has railroad tracks which are used daily. All day long cars, trucks and trains pass by the mission. It is near the center of town and remains an important part of the city. Mission San Gabriel Archangel is a Catholic parish, located in the town of San Gabriel, California, USA. “The Mission Community is especially committed to and challenged by its worship, its desire to educate and nurture leadership, and its service to the poor and vulnerable.”, as described in The Mission San Gabriel.

In can be said that San Gabriel Mission brings hope and messengers of the mission bring Good News along with the hope to people. “The Mission Community is especially committed to and challenged by its worship, its desire to educate and nurture leadership, and its service to the poor and vulnerable.” Courageous examples inspire and guide us to build God’s Reign of harmony and peace within our families, community and world. San Gabriel Mission makes the world better and also makes people inspired and proud of what they are doing.

Interesting Facts about San Gabriel Mission are: Mission San Gabriel is the only one with Moorish architecture, Settlers from Mission San Gabriel founded the city of Los Angeles, Mission San Gabriel has no bell tower – the bells are in a separate wall, and Mission San Gabriel is the oldest structure of its kind south of Monterey.

Considering the visitors, they could tour the church, museum and grounds. Adobe Museum building was built in 1812 and was originally used for bedrooms and memory book. Exhibits include the mission of relics, books and religious artifacts. The grounds feature a complex transaction with the original mission, including indoor and outdoor kitchen, winery, water tanks, soap, candles and vats, tanning vats for the preparation of cattle hides, and a cemetery. There is also a souvenir shop. Streetcar in the Pacific Electric Railway makes a stop at Mission San Gabriel near 1905.

As part of William McPherson Collection in Special Collections at the Honnold / Mudd Library Claremont Colleges, Matrimonial Investigation Records of the San Gabriel Mission is a valuable resource for research on pre-state of the Mission. William McPherson was a farmer, scientist and collector from Orange County, California, who donated his extensive collection of documents of the mission, mostly from the Mission San Gabriel, a special collection in 1964. Marriage records between 1788-1861, and as well there are notarized interviews with couples wishing to marry in the Roman Catholic Church, performed to establish the freedom of couples to marry. As a fact, 165 people have been presented in the collection, with 173 men and 170 women. Since the donated records are fragile, they are no longer available for photocopying.

However, despite the fact that church was closed to the public for a time, mission treasures remained intact, which shows that mission interprets history. The Catholic Church used the Mission as an active Parish until 1908 when the day to day responsibilities were given to the Claretian Missionaries. A school was opened in 1912 and the Mission continues to flourish. Nowadays people go to the San Gabriel Mission church, and it proves that it still has its influence, its powerful history and significance.

Considering the Native Americans of San Gabriel Mission, ““The Indians who occupied most of present day Los Angeles County were [after the Chumash] the wealthiest, most populous, and most powerful ethnic nationality in aboriginal southern California” according to Lowell John Bean. They spoke “one of the Cupan languages in the Takic family.” These natives lived in over 50 villages, each of which held between fifty to two-hundred natives. Before the Spanish arrived in force the total population is estimated to be about 5,000.”, according to The Mission San Gabriel.

As well, it can be said that people who visit The San Gabriel Mission interpret the history their way and they are trying to promote certain ideas about California. The fact that it has been a cornerstone of the of the Catholic faith in the San Gabriel Valley, it continued to the Mission’s multi-ethnic community continues to be sent forth with compassion to witness to God’s loving and liberating presence. Cultural diversity unites people who want to find common things, who have the same interests. The Mission Community is especially committed to and challenged by its worship, its desire to educate and nurture leadership, and its service to the poor and vulnerable. This way people wanted to change the surrounding world, the society and the way people live. They wanted to improve people’s lives and offer more opportunities, more spiritual presence. There can be also argues considering the harm that missions made to the Native Americans. But missioners would say that the San Gabriel Mission is not harmful at all, but useful for the certain part of the society that needs and seeks help, that believes in the Mission and continues to preserve it as a part of life. Considering the Catholicism, it can be said that some people consider Catholicism the right way to follow, that all the principles have to be taken into consideration. Each person sees religion the way he can see it and the way he wants to see it. That is why there are different views on Catholicism and different interpretations. It is rather difficult to indicate whether Catholicism is good or bad, because it exists, it helps and it is promoted. And moreover, people believe in it and for them it is indispensable.

To sum it up, it can be said that The San Gabriel Mission is the fourth in seniority among the California missions, often called the “Queen of the missions” and “godmother of Los Angeles.” Founded in 1771, it left its mark in the history of California and it is still interesting to people. It housed the first hospital in California and was the first ship built from local materials. Prosperous mission supplied the goods settlements throughout California. The mission is well preserved, and its museum can learn a lot about its rich past, as described in The Mission San Gabriel. San Gabriel grew to be the “Pride of the Missions” and supplied many of the other Missions and settlements with the necessities of life from its lands which stretched from the ocean to the mountains and east to the Banning area of Riverside County.


Works cited

The Mission San Gabriel. 2011. 10 May 2011. <http://sangabrielmission.org/>