Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó

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Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho. Construction of the church was completed in 1744. Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto.jpg
Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó. Construction of the church was completed in 1744.
Loreto map.png

Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó, or Mission Loreto, was founded on October 25, 1697 at the Monqui Native American (Indian) settlement of Conchó in the present city of Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Established by the Catholic Church's Jesuit missionary Juan María de Salvatierra, Loreto was the first successful mission and Spanish town in Baja California. The mission is located at 26°00′37″N111°20′36″W / 26.01028°N 111.34333°W / 26.01028; -111.34333 .

Monqui

The Monqui were indigenous peoples of Mexico, who lived in the vicinity of Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico, at the time of Spanish contact. Monqui territory included about 65 kilometres (40 mi) of coast along the Gulf of California and extended a few kilometers inland to where the Cochimi people lived.

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.

Loreto, Baja California Sur Town in Baja California Sur, Mexico

Loreto is a resort town and municipal seat of Loreto Municipality, located on the Gulf of California in eastern Baja California Sur state, Mexico. In 2019, the city of 20,385 inhabitants is located about 350 km (220 mi) north of La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur state.

Contents

The mission closed in 1829. The Mission Church survives and is located in downtown Loreto.

History

Attempts

After Hernán Cortés' initial failed 1535 attempt to found a colony in the Bay of Santa Cruz (today's La Paz, Baja California Sur), the next 150 years were marked with further unsuccessful efforts to colonize Baja California. The most nearly successful of these attempts was the 1683–1685 outpost at San Bruno, only about 20 kilometers north of Loreto, among the Cochimí. This failure by Admiral Isidro de Atondo y Antillón and the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino led directly to the success at Loreto 12 years later.

Hernán Cortés Spanish conquistador

Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of what is now mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Baja California Sur State of Mexico

Baja California Sur, officially the Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California Sur, is the second-smallest Mexican state by population and the 31st admitted state of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, make up the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.

Misión San Bruno

The short-lived Jesuit mission of San Bruno was established in 1684 on the Baja California Peninsula near the Gulf of California, in colonial Mexico of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The Mission was located at 26°13′57″N111°23′53″W. The location of this mission should not be confused with the location of the present day town of San Bruno which is located about 110 kilometres (68 mi) to the north.

After many unsuccessful ventures in Baja California, the government of New Spain and the Spanish crown were reluctant to finance any further attempts. However, Kino's enthusiasm for this potential mission field was persistent. He ultimately persuaded some of his colleagues, including Salvatierra, and the authorities in New Spain to allow the Jesuits to return to the peninsula, but this time on their own responsibility and largely at their own expense.

By the start of 1697 everything was ready for the journey's start at the mouth of the Río Yaqui River in Sonora. Kino was unable to participate, because an Indian rebellion in Sonora required his presence on the mainland. Salvatierra would soon be joined at Loreto by Francisco María Piccolo, and they were supported from the mainland by the procurador for the mission, Juan de Ugarte.

Sonora State of Mexico

Sonora, officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora, is one of 31 states that, with Mexico City, comprise the 32 federal entities of United Mexican States. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo. Sonora is bordered by the states of Chihuahua to the east, Baja California to the northwest and Sinaloa to the south. To the north, it shares the U.S.–Mexico border with the states of Arizona and New Mexico, and on the west has a significant share of the coastline of the Gulf of California.

Juan de Ugarte Central American Jesuit priest and missionary

Juan de Ugarte, S.J., (1662–1730) was a Jesuit missionary and explorer in Baja California Sur, New Spain, and the successor to Juan María de Salvatierra as head of the peninsula's missions.

Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho in the 18th century. Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto. Siglo XVIII.jpg
Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó in the 18th century.

Founding

On October 19, 1697, Salvatierra, with nine armed men, disembarked from the galley Santa Elvira at the place the Indians called Conchó (probably meaning waterhole). The site was distinguished by "a small patch of stunted shrubbery and a spring of fresh water, both rare luxuries in that inhospitable country." In the first days after their arrival, the missionary erected a modest structure that served as a chapel, to the front of which they affixed a wooden cross. On October 25 they carried the image of the Virgin of Our Lady of Loreto in a solemn procession, a ritual of faith that claimed the area as Spanish territory. Thus began the Mission Loreto. [2]

A Monqui rancheria -- a settlement whose population was usually 50 to 80 persons -- was only a few hundred feet from where the Spanish decided to build the mission -- with the only waterholes in the area between the two. The Spanish presence attracted more Indians; some were offered food in exchange for working and attending religious services, but the majority became hostile. On November 13, about 200 Indian men attacked the rudimentary fortress of the Spanish, shooting arrows and throwing rocks. The Spaniards fended them off with a mortar and two harquebusses. After about two hours, the attack ceased. Two Spaniards were slightly wounded and Salvatierra reported that they had killed and wounded several Indians. [3]

Mortar (weapon) Artillery weapon that launches explosive projectiles at high angles

A mortar is usually a simple, lightweight, man portable, muzzle-loaded weapon, consisting of a smooth-bore metal tube fixed to a base plate with a lightweight bipod mount and a sight. They launch explosive shells in high-arcing ballistic trajectories. Mortars are typically used as indirect fire weapons for close fire support with a variety of ammunition.

Two days later a Spanish ship with supplies and reinforcements, including a second Jesuit priest, Francisco María Piccolo. arrived and, with the help of native workers paid with food, the Spaniards quickly erected a walled fortress called the Real Presidio de Loreto (Royal Fort of Loreto) that became the mission headquarters. Sporadic resistance by the Monqui to the mission continued but after a confrontation on Easter Sunday 1698 in which several Indians were killed or wounded,the Monqui accepted the presence of the mission. By late 1698, a total of 27 men -- priests, religious helpers, and soldiers, staffed the mission. [4]

Easter Major Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus

Easter, also called Pascha or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

Later history

The Loreto Mission would prove "worthless as a breadbasket" because of insufficient water to irrigate crops, but valuable as a base for expansion of the missionary enterprise and Spanish control of Baja California. The Spanish recognized that providing food to the Indians would draw them to the mission, but food had to be brought from the mainland of Mexico across the often stormy Gulf of California. Periodic shortages of food impacted the mission for decades. In 1699, the mission's need to find land suitable for agriculture led it to establish a new mission in a promising valley about 25 kilometres (16 mi) inland from Loreto at a place called Biaundó by the Cochimí Indian residents. [5] In succeeding years, with Loreto as the base, the Jesuits created several new missions in south-central Baja California and then in more remote portions of the peninsula both to the north and to the south.

Loreto mission's stone church, which still stands, was begun in 1740 and completed in 1744. Loreto continued to be the headquarters for missionaries. even after the Jesuits were expelled from Baja California and replaced, first by the Franciscans in 1768 and then by the Dominicans in 1773. In 1769, the Loreto mission (now led by Franciscans under Junípero Serra) was the departure point for the land portion of the land/sea exploratory expedition led by Gaspar de Portolá. The joint military/missionary expedition traveled into today's U.S. state of California as far north as San Francisco Bay, establishing new Franciscan missions at Velicatá (Baja), San Diego and Monterey.

Mission Loreto came to an end in 1829, by which time the native population throughout Baja California had declined "to the point of near extinction." [6]

Population decline

By the end of 1698, one year after its founding, the Loreto mission had a population of about 100 Monqui families who had been converted to Christianity, nearly all of the Monqui who had lived along a 65 kilometres (40 mi) stretch of coast. This population of around 400 steadily decreased thereafter because of the toll from imported European diseases. By 1733, the Monqui population of Loreto was only 134 and it was maintained thereafter at about that level only by importing Christian Indians from other parts of Baja California. In 1762, a Jesuit report recorded only 38 baptisms in the previous 18 years -- but 309 deaths. [7]

At the same time as the Monqui population declined, the imported Spanish, mestizo, and Indian population of Loreto increased. In 1730, the Jesuits recorded the non-Monqui population of Loreto at 175, which included 99 men and their wives and children. The men were employed as soldiers, sailors, artisans, teamsters, and cowboys. By 1770 the total population of Loreto was more than 400 of whom only about 120 were Indians indigenous to Baja California. The Monqui as a people and distinct culture were virtually extinct. [8]

See also

Footnotes

  1. Burckhalter, David, Sedgwick, Mina, and Fontana, Bernard I. (2013), Baja California Missions, Tucson: University of Arizona Press, p. 28. Downloaded from Project Muse.
  2. Weber, Francis J. (April 1967), "Jesuit Missions in Baja California", The Americas, Vol. 23, No. 4., pp. 412. Downloaded from JSTOR; Burckhalter, et al 19-20.
  3. Crosby, Harry W. (1994), Antigua California: Mission and Colony on the Peninsular Frontier, 1697-1768, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, pp. 29-33
  4. Crosby, pp. 34-36, 38-39; Burkckhalter et al, p. 20
  5. Crosby, 34-45
  6. Jackson, Robert H. (1981), "Epidemic Disease and Population Decline in the Baja California Missions", Southern California Quarterly, Vol 63, No. 4, p. 308. Downloaded from JSTOR.
  7. Crosby, pp. 266-277
  8. Crosby, pp. 276-277

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