Posted on: Thursday, July 21, 2011 8:08 AM by Allyson Ryan
I have been to several California Missions in my day but the Carmel Mission (aka San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo) has always been my favorite. Wouldn’t you know that it was Father Junipero Serra’s, the founder of the California Mission system, favorite mission as well? I have visited the mission on several occasions but this time I had the opportunity to attend a Roman Catholic Mass. I’m not a member of the Catholic Church, so I felt a tad out of my comfort zone but luckily I went with someone who had been born and raised in the Catholic tradition. The service was traditional but the surroundings, dating back to the late 1700s, made it memorable and moving. The baroque-influenced altarpiece stands front and center which captures your eye after gazing at the high ceilings. The traditional hymns were paired perfectly with the reed organ. After mass we headed out through the decorated America Indian cemetery where over 200 natives have been laid to rest. Indians were vital to the construction and operation of the mission and were trained as carpenters, cattle herders and blacksmiths. The cemetery then led to the area behind the church where they were serving coffee and donuts for a minimal fee. The Munras courtyard area also hosted a farmers’ market booth that featured organic local produce, perfect for a Sunday dinner. This was the icing on the historical cake as several medieval churches would hold similar markets in their courtyards as well. After soaking up a little caffeine I wandered through the main courtyard. You can’t help but linger around the mission grounds and admire the well kept gardens. I always enjoy imagining what kind of activities must have occurred here 200 years ago.