Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mission San Javier (David)

Just getting there was an adventure
Just after Loreto Fest, a bunch of cruisers anchored in Puerto Escondido climbed aboard a four-wheel-drive troop carrier for the drive to Mission San Javier. Located in rugged mountainous terrain about 25 miles west of Loreto, Mission San Javier was founded in 1699, the second oldest (after Loreto) of the west coast missions. Just getting there was a three hour adventure as the mission appears to be in the middle of nowhere.

Today the narrow arroyo is inhabited by just a few locals who maintain the mission and run a tourist restaurant, but back at the beginning of the eighteenth century this was home to a community of about 20,000 Indians before smallpox and other diseases took their toll.

Mission San Javier
It's been reported that when the first service was held, Father Miguel del Barco was horrified to see the locals turn up in their native dress, that is, no clothes at all for the men, and a small covering for the women. Furthermore, the mission interior proved to be quite chilly in winter. When the good Father preached about the choice between eternal damnation in the fires of Hell versus the more nebulous benefits of Heaven, most expressed a preference for Hell because at least it was going to be warm!