In 1769 Spain took active and decisive actions to settle the vast region of her empire known as California. To accomplish the feat she turned to the willing hands of the Franciscan missionaries. The friars willingly answered their call and through their labors assured Spanish hegemony over the region. Both soldiers and friars had participated in the project but the latter's role has usually been underestimated.
The usual mental picture of the Franciscan monks that settled California is one that belittles their greatness. Such views regard the friars as crude religious fanatics with little education and intelligence, whose only pleasure was in baptizing natives. Such a view is inaccurate and does no justice to their composite personality and their mission.
The missionaries were some of Spain's best minds who had a thorough classical education which made them the best educated group of individuals in California. Along with their academic distinction they had acquired the graces and refinements of continental and Spanish culture. When beset by the .trials of rigid mission life, their academic backgrounds proved not to be a hindrance but a means with which they worked out practical solutions. Because of their education, cultural attainments, and practical ways they were the legitimate conveyors of civilization to California.
Through the use of letters, reports, books, and archival documents an accurate vision of the missionaries emerges. The picture is one that reveals their well-rounded personalities. It is hoped that the obscure aspects of the missionaries' personalities that are highlighted in this thesis will erase mistaken images and supplant those with views in harmony with historical reality.
Wilfred J. Airey
Frederick G. Hoyt
Juan R. Velez
Master of Arts (MA)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Franciscans -- Missions; California -- History -- To 1846
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Vega, Gilberto, "Ringers of Bells and Teachers of Civilization : the Work of the California Franciscan Missionaries, 1769-1821" (1983). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 737.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives