Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó

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Mission Loreto was founded on October 25, 1697 at the Monqui settlement of Conchó in the present city of Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Established by the Jesuit missionary Juan María de Salvatierra, this earliest successful mission in Baja California is sometimes considered "head and mother of all the Spanish missions in Upper and Lower California."

After Hernán Cortés' initial failed 1535 attempt to found a colony in the Bay of Santa Cruz (today's La Paz, Baja California Sur), the next 150 years were marked with further unsuccessful efforts to colonize Baja California. The most nearly successful of these attempts was the 1683-1685 outpost at San Bruno, only about 20 kilometers north of Loreto, among the Cochimí. This failure by Admiral Isidro de Atondo y Antillón and the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino led directly to the success at Loreto 12 years later.

After many unsuccessful ventures in Baja California, the government of New Spain and the Spanish crown were reluctant to finance any further attempts. However, Kino's enthusiasm for this potential mission field was persistent. He ultimately persuaded some of his colleagues, including Salvatierra, and the authorities in New Spain to allow the Jesuits to return to the peninsula, but this time on their own responsibility and largely at their own expense.

By the start of 1697 everything was ready for the journey's start at the mouth of the Río Yaqui River in Sonora. Kino was unable to participate, because an Indian rebellion in Sonora required his presence on the mainland. Salvatierra would soon be joined at Loreto by Francisco María Piccolo, and they were supported from the mainland by the procurador for the mission, Juan de Ugarte.

Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó in the 18th century.
Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó in the 18th century.

On October 19, 1697, Salvatierra, with a small group of soldiers, disembarked from the galley "Santa Elvira" in the Bay of San Dionisio at 26° N latitude. In the first days after their arrival, the missionary erected a modest structure that served as a chapel, to the front of which they affixed a wooden cross. On October 25 they carried the image of the Virgin of Our Lady of Loreto in a solemn procession, a ritual of faith that claimed the area as Spanish territory. Thus began the mission.

Loreto served as the base for further expansion of the Jesuit mission system, first in south-central Baja California and then to more remote portions of the peninsula both to the north and to the south. The mission's stone church, which still stands, was begun in 1740. Loreto continued to be the headquarters even after the Jesuits were expelled from Baja California and replaced, first by the Franciscans in 1768 and then by the Dominicans in 1773.

The mission came to an end in 1829, by which time the native Indian neophyte population throughout Baja California Sur had become extinct.

[edit] References

  • Crosby, Harry W. 1994. Antigua California: Mission and Colony on the Peninsular Frontier, 1697-1768. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
  • León-Portilla, Miguel. 1997. Loreto's Key Role in the Early History of the Californias (1697-1773). California Mission Studies Association.
  • Salvatierra, Juan María. 1971. Selected Letters about Lower California. Edited by Ernest J. Burrus. Dawson's Book Shop, Los Angeles.
  • Vernon, Edward W. 2002. Las Misiones Antiguas: The Spanish Missions of Baja California, 1683-1855. Viejo Press, Santa Barbara, California.

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Baja California missions

Misión San Bruno (1683) · Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó (1697) · Visita de San Juan Bautista Londó (1699) · Misión San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó (1699) · Misión San Juan Bautista Malibat (Misión Liguí) (1705) · Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé (1705) · Misión San Jose de Comondú (1708) · Misión La Purísima Concepción de Cadegomó (1720) · Misión de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de La Paz Airapí (1720) · Misión Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Huasinapi (1720) · Misión Santiago de Los Coras (1721) · Misión Nuestra Señora de los Dolores del Sur Chillá (1721) · Misión San Ignacio Kadakaamán (1728) · Misión Estero de las Palmas de San José del Cabo Añuití (1730) · Misión Santa Rosa de las Palmas (Misión Todos Santos) (1733) · Misión San Luis Gonzaga Chiriyaqui (1740) · Misión Santa Gertrudis (1752) · Misión San Francisco Borja (1762) · Visita de Calamajué (1766) · Misión Santa María de los Ángeles (1767) · Misión San Fernando Rey de España de Velicatá (1769) · Visita de la Presentación (1769) · Misión Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de Viñacado (1744) · Visita de San José de Magdalena (1774) · Misión Santo Domingo de la Frontera (1775) · Misión San Vicente Ferrer (1780) · Misión San Miguel Arcángel de la Frontera (1797) · Misión Santo Tomás de Aquino (1791) · Misión San Pedro Mártir de Verona (1794) · Misión Santa Catarina Virgen y Mártir (1797) · Visita de San Telmo (1798) · Misión El Descanso (Misión San Miguel la Nueva) (1817) · Misión de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe del Norte (1834)

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