The Old San Gabriel Mission

The Old San Gabriel Mission

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Excerpt from The Old San Gabriel Mission: Historical Notes Taken From Old Manuscripts and Records, Accurately Compiled After Diligent Research, With Mention of the Other California Franciscan Missions and Their Founders

This is a glorious year for old San Gabriel, long to be remembered. The year 1921 marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of San Gabriel Mission. One hundred and fifty years ago the brown-robed Sons of St. Francis came here not in quest of gold but to conquer for Christ the souls of the natives given up to pagan practices and lost to God. A band of these Missionaries, led by the Saintly Father Junipero Serra, in their excursions across the land halted here and being most favorably impressed by the beauty of the spot, selected it as the center of their future apostolic activities. Here they erected our peerless Mission; here they planted the Cross of Christ and started with undaunted zeal the arduous task of converting the Indians to Christianity. What labors, what amount of suffering they had to undergo in this superhuman enterprise it is hard to describe. Living in an age of refinement and comfort with every faculty at our command to satisfy the most fastidious taste, we cannot properly picture to ourselves the extent of self-sacrifice involved in the conquest of the savage to religion, especially at a time when civilization had made little or no inroads into this part of the New World. There is one, however, who did fully measure the extent of their hardships; it is the Divine Master whom they so faithfully served and followed.

They have long since gone to their reward but the fragrance of their holy examples we still perceive; they are here no more, but their generous sacrifices are left behind for us to admire, and their splendid virtues for us to emulate. Their bodies rest somewhere in this land of perennial sunshine, but the fruits of their labor, their wondrous achievements, survive them.

No, not all is gone with their passing out of this earth. Their mighty deeds speak to us even after their death.

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