Mission San Carlos de
Borromeo de Carmelo
was founded on June 3, 1770 by Father Junipero Serra, Presidente of
the California Missions Chain. It was the 2nd mission in the 21
mission chain in Alta California. It was named for Saint Charles
Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan. In the summer of 1771, building was
started by 40 Indians from Baja California Missions, 3 soldiers and 5
sailors. This was to be Father Serra's headquarters in California.
The Eslenes Indians who
lived near the
mission were friendly and willing to help the padres with the
mission. The Indians were trained as plowmen, shepherds, cattle
herders, blacksmiths, and carpenters. They worked at making adobe
bricks, roof tiles and tools needed to build the mission. In 1794,
the Indian population reached 927, but by 1823 the total had dwindled
to 381. Between 1770 and 1836, over 4,000 Indians were baptized at
The economy at Mission
San Carlos de
Borromeo de Carmelo was similar to the other missions in that they
planted crops of wheat and corn. They also planted vineyards, and
raised cattle and sheep. The agriculture was needed not only to
maintain the mission community and the nearby Indians, but was used
for trade and served to visitors to the mission. In the beginning,
the mission relied on bear meat from Mission San Antonio de Padua and
supplies brought by ship from Mission San Diego de Alcala. In 1774,
supplies ran low and the mission people almost died. In 1775 the
harvest was 4 times greater, and with Juan Bautista de Anza bringing
supplies by land, they no longer had to rely on ship for supplies. By
1794, there was an abundance of crops and the mission was
Mission San Carlos de
Borromeo de Carmelo
was busy from the beginning. It was near Monterey, which would soon
become the capital of California. It was also the headquarters for
all of the California Missions and had many visitors.
After Mexico won its
Spain, it found that it could no longer afford to keep the missions
running as Spain had done. In 1834, Mexico decided to end the mission
system and sell all of the lands. They offered the lands to the
Indians who did not want the lands or could not come up with the
purchase price. The lands were divided into smaller Ranchos and sold
to Mexican citizens who were helpful during the war for independence.
After nearly 30 years, the missions were returned to the Catholic
Church. Although some of the missions had already been returned to
the church, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an Act
declaring that all of the 21 missions in the California mission chain
would become the property of the Catholic Church and have remained so
since that time. The church and quadrangle fell into ruin during this
It was not until 1884
that Father Angel
Casanova undertook the work of saving this historic landmark. In
1931, Msgr. Philip Scher appointed Harry Downie to be curator in
charge of mission restoration. Two years later Carmel Mission became
an independent parish. In 1961, the Mission was honored and
designated as a Minor Basilica by Pope John XXIII.
Today Mission San Carlos
de Borromeo de
Carmelo is one of the most popular tourist sites in all of
California. It is widely recognised as the head of the mission chain
which was responsible for the settlement of Alta California. It is a
place of pilgrimage for visitors from all over the world. In
September 1987, Pope John Paul II visited the mission as part of his
U.S. tour. It is also a very busy and active parish church.
Father Junipero Serra was
a man true to his
vow of poverty. When Father Junipero Serra died on August 28, 1784,
his only possessions were a board cot, a blanket, one table, one
chair, a chest, a candlestick, and a gourd. Nothing else. He is
buried in the Mission sanctuary along with Fathers Juan Crespi and
Fermin Lasuen. In 1985, Pope John Paul II declared Junipero Serra
venerable and in 1988 he was beatified in recognition of his heroic
virtues. He is one of the most important figures in the history of
California and the United States of America.
disabled. Get Netscape 3.0
or turn it on!
2. Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was
3. What Indian Tribe was in the area of the San
de Carmelo Mission?
4. Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo is know
of the Mission Chain
of the Missions
5. Who did the actual building of the missions?
6. What happened to the missions in 1834?
Indians took over
7. San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo is the only
been completely rebuilt
the home of Junipero Serra
declared a saint
8. Who brought supplies to the mission by land?
Bautista de Anza
9. What happened in 1784?
Mission became a parish
mission was restored
Junipero Serra died
10. What did Abraham Lincoln agree to in 1863?
return the Mission lands to
President of the United
the San Antonio de Padua
the Indians to leave the
Mission Internet Trail
Spanish Missions of California
Missions Interactive Homepage
This project written by Rob
partial fulfilment of
of Arts Degree
from Cal Poly
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and/or comments to
This page last updated on July 15, 2010