Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Carmel Mission

Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo is a special place for my family.  Since Addie is a fourth grader, and had to choose a mission for her California Mission report, she chose the family mission.  We took a trip to Carmel this weekend so she could tour it and learn more about it.

Before we left, she interviewed my grandpa about our family connection.  I videotaped her interview as well as her tour and we'll be working on the final product before she goes back to school next Tuesday.  My grandfather  told the same stories to me when I was a child, and it was incredibly special to hear him tell Addie.  When we shared the story with the woman collecting admissions fees, she refunded mine, saying that being a relative trumped being a parishioner.  I guess it pays to have connections.

We are direct descendants of a Spanish soldier, Manuel Butron, who was close to Father Junípero Serra.  He is the only non-clergy to be buried inside the chapel of a California mission; he was buried inside the chapel at Serra's request.  Serra is buried at the front of the Basilica.  Butron's burial is marked just inside the entrance by a plaque in the floor.  Manuel Butron, my many times great grandfather on my mother's side, was also the recipient of the first Spanish land grant in California in 1775.  He was married to a native American woman who is buried in the cemetery of the mission.

Addie said that the mission "was really old, but it was really interesting, too."  Henry said that he "was tired of just walking around looking at things."  E helped Addie do a rubbing of the burial marker inside the chapel.

I've visited the mission several times, but (I think) not yet as an adult.  As a kid I understood that it was important but I didn't really appreciate its beauty.  Maybe it was the crisp, bright day, or maybe it was just the mood I was in, but I was moved by the peacefulness and architecture of the mission.  The splendor of the reconstructed chapel contrasted so much with the simplicity of the living quarters.  The flowers were beautiful and the church was still and dark.  It was beautiful.

Today the Carmel Mission functions as a museum, a school, and an active parish church.


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