Junipero Serra—the Man and his Work - A. H. Fitch

Martyrdom at San Diego

During the transactions described in the foregoing chapter, Perez was occupied in preparing his ship—the Santiago—for an exploring expedition up the coast. It will be recalled that Junipero had suggested to the viceroy the ways and means of making this expedition and had obtained his consent for its undertaking, a consent all the more readily given inasmuch as Spain was desirous of knowing how far Russia's movements extended in the northwest.

Perez had unloaded his cargo of supplies for the presidio  and mission, made all necessary repairs, and in less than a month from the time of his arrival in the port of Monterey, was ready to sail.

The chaplain of the Santiago  being stricken with illness it became necessary to appoint a substitute. The president's choice fell upon his old friend Crespi, who was ordered to accompany the expedition, not only as chaplain but also in the capacity of chronicler.

Perez's instructions were to sail as far north as latitude 60°, to note advantageous points for future settlements and to take possession of them in the name of his majesty Carlos III., by erecting a cross and burying at its base the usual papers claiming right of possession. He was strictly enjoined from divulging the motives of his voyage to strangers. If he chanced to meet with vessels he was to attribute his appearance in northern waters to the winds which had driven him far out of his course while he was carrying supplies to Monterey. His instructions also included an order to return to Monterey before the beginning of the equinox, in order to lessen, as far as possible, the chances of mishaps to frigate and explorers. The character of the coast was unknown and the Spaniards possessed no maps, to guide the navigators.

Perez sailed as far as latitude 55°-3'. The island off the coast of Canada, now known as Queen Charlotte, which Perez named the Santa Margarita, was discovered on this expedition. From here the explorers sailed in a southeasterly direction, surveying the coast. At a point near Nootka Sound, Perez tried to land and erect the cross, but violent winds suddenly rising caused him to abandon the attempt as involving unnecessary danger. Padre Crespi has left an interesting account of the Indians they met on this voyage when the frigate anchored in the harbor. The savages paddled out in immense canoes which held an incredible number of them. They were eager barterers and exchanged for pieces of iron beautifully carved articles of wood, well-made hair blankets, and mats and hats neatly plaited of bark. They were friendly folk, well formed, and the greater number were clothed in garments of skin or in blankets.

The women, came well-covered and clothed in the same manner as the men, except that from the lower lip of each woman hung a disk of wood, which seemed to be very broad and which defaced her greatly, for from a distance it had the effect of a tongue pulled out or hanging out. With a simple movement of the lip she could cover and conceal her mouth and nostrils.[Crespi's Diary in Palou's Noticias, III p. 189]

He adds with unconscious irony that he does not know whether this disk was meant as an adornment or not, but from what he had observed of the sex elsewhere is inclined to believe it was intended as such.

Perez soon began his return voyage; the heavy fogs along the coast were not conducive to satisfactory explorations. He arrived in the harbor of Monterey August 27, having been gone not quite three months. Crespi returned to his mission, San Carlos, and gave an account of the voyage to Junipero, which the latter forwarded to the viceroy. The occupation of the port of San Francisco remained still to be an accomplished fact. The large bay discovered by Portola's party in 1769 had not yet been explored. It was not known whether the bay contained a good harbor, or if containing it, in what part of the immense sheet of water it was to be found. As such explorations would have to be made with boats, and as none were available at the time, Palou suggested the expediency of sending out a land party to seek a suitable site for the San Francisco mission, which establishment he was to administer. Rivera agreed to this plan. Accordingly in November the expedition set forth. It was commanded by Rivera himself, and included Palou, an escort of sixteen soldiers, two servants, and a mule train, carrying supplies sufficient for forty days.

During this exploring expedition, the details of which it is not necessary to give here, Palou and' Rivera were the first white men to cross the sand dunes of San Francisco, descend to the bay and follow the white curving line of the beach which has since become so popular as a fashionable promenade. The Spanish officer and Spanish priest looked down upon the famous "seal-rocks "from probably the very spot where now the "Cliff House "caters yearly to thousands of visitors from every quarter of the globe. The expedition returned in December to Monterey, the winter rains having made further explorations unpracticable. Nothing more was done to further the northern project, until three months later, when by Bucareli's order, five officers of the Spanish navy, commanding a fleet of four vessels, set sail from San Blas in March.

On the return of this expedition an officer, by name Captain Hecata, who had accompanied it, pronounced San Francisco one of the finest ports in the possession of Spain.

We will not close the subject of these expeditions to the north, without a few words concerning the trusty Majorcan sailor, Juan Perez. When he brought the Santiago  back to Monterey, he steered his ship for the last time into port. The second day out on his return voyage to San Blas he died and was buried at sea. The news of his death did not reach Monterey till a year later, when Junipero said mass for the soul of his countryman.

Perez's death was a distinct loss to California. He had been the first of his contemporaries to reach San Diego and Monterey; he was more familiar with the California coast than any other navigator of his time; and as a skilled, experienced pilot few surpassed him.

In his last expedition Juan Perez,

. . . . though he had not reached latitude 60°, as instructed, nor discovered any good ports, nor landed anywhere to take possession for Spain, nor found either foreign establishments or proof of their non-existence, had still gained the honor of having discovered practically the Northwest Coast. He had surveyed a large portion of the two great islands that make up the coast of British Columbia, giving the first description of the natives; he had seen and described, though vaguely and from a distance, nearly all of the Washington coast and a large part of the Oregon. He had given to his nation whatever credit and territorial claims may be founded on the mere act of first discovery. To give any degree of precedence in these respects to later navigators who were enabled to make a more detailed examination is as absurd as to regard the officers of the United States Coast survey, who have done such excellent service for geography and commerce, as the discoverers of the Northwest Coast. [Bancroft, Discovery of the Northwest Coast, pp. 156, 157]

While these northern expeditions were in progress, Junipero had arranged for the establishment of a new southern mission which was to be on the coast some twenty-six leagues above San Diego. The mission was to be called San Juan Capistrano. The president's instructions were lengthy and minute. Although he issued his instructions in August, it was not until late in October that they were put into execution. The delay was probably due to the time consumed by couriers in carrying communications through the California wilderness. Lieutenant Ortega, commanding the San Diego presidio, assisted at the founding of the new mission, which took place October 311 1775. The usual religious ceremonies were performed, accompanied by the ringing of bells and firing of guns.

[Illustration] from Junipero Serra by A. H. Fitch


Work on the buildings was progressing rapidly; friars and soldiers were in the best of spirits, when a courier suddenly appeared in their midst with sinister news of a formidable Indian rising at San Diego, and of a desperate attack on the mission. Ortega, without waiting for further particulars, threw himself on his horse and, accompanied by part of the soldiers, hurried off to San Diego. The knowledge that his young son and nephew were in the mission lent additional speed to his flight. The two friars, in the meanwhile, buried the bells and, leaving the uncompleted buildings, set out with the remaining soldiers for the scene of the attack. They did not learn the full extent of the disaster which had overtaken the first settlement of civilized man in Alta California, until their arrival at the presidio.

The San Diego missions had been moved the previous year two leagues from the fort to a site where the land was more fertile and the water supply more adequate. Notwithstanding that the San Dieguenos had from the first showed a marked distrust and dislike of the Spaniards, the latter felt no uneasiness. So little did they fear for their safety that they neglected the most ordinary precautions to insure it. Although the mission was, as we have said, two leagues from the presidio, it was built without the usual protection of a palisade wall. It was open to attack from every side. The savages had it in their power at any time to surround the mission and cut off communication with the garrison. Sentinels were not posted at night to sound an alarm in case of attack. This blind feeling of security was soon to cost them dearly. The mission was in charge of Fray Luis Jayme of Majorca, a man in whom intrepidity united with pious ardor. His companion and associate was Fray Vicente Fuster, a friar from the province of Andalusia.

Staying with the padre were the young son and nephew of Lieutenant Ortega, the commander of the presidio. The guard consisted of three soldiers under the command of a corporal. A carpenter and two blacksmiths (of the latter one was confined to his bed) were also at this time residing in the mission. There were, therefore, not more than eleven persons of Spanish blood in the mission, two of whom were boys and one a sick man. Of all this the Indians were fully cognizant.

But in the summer skies the Spaniards failed to perceive in the horizon the faint cloud, which more cautious men would have noted. A cheerful calm prevailed, a calm which in the hearts of the good friars changed to elation, when sixty Indians applied for the privilege of baptism. With great joy the padres performed the ceremony. The next day two neophytes—brothers—slipped unobserved from the mission. They did not return. When their absence was discovered, soldiers were promptly dispatched in search of them. The runaways, however, could not be found. Now and again rumors reached the friars that the escaped neophytes were visiting all the rancherias  for many leagues around, and were telling that the padres employed force to convert the Indians. Once it was reported that the brothers, speeding through the country, had reached the warlike tribes on the Colorado River. Yet this intelligence did not disturb the serenity of the Spaniards. The padres, indeed, grieved for the spiritual welfare of the runaways, but were far from suspecting any danger to themselves.

On the night of November 4, the little mission was wrapped in peaceful slumber. No sentinel was on duty to hear the soft, sullen tread of savages approaching the settlement. If the neophytes in their huts were wakeful and alert that memorable night, they made no sound, and the slumbering soldiers were not aroused. Nearer and nearer came the stealthy footsteps. Had a Spaniard but raised his sleepy eyelids and peered an instant through the aperture that served as window in his room, he would have seen in the clear, dewless night the dusky forms of hundreds of naked savages, armed with bows, arrows, and wooden clubs, creeping silently toward the church. They were strangely intent on first satisfying a passion which throbbed as strongly within them as their hatred of the Spaniards—a passion for clothes and ornaments. They had learned—it may be from the neophytes—where the padres kept their robes. Silently, eagerly, they poured into the church, plundered it of the ornaments so painstakingly brought by the Franciscans to California, then sought the sacristy, where they seized with childish delight the priestly cassocks and stoles. This successfully accomplished, they announced their presence with wild yells, which momentarily grew louder and fiercer, as they set fire to the church, the barracks, and all the buildings.

The padres' house, the smithy and also the granary were of adobe with roofs of tule. The church and the barracks were constructed of light, inflammable wood. Before many minutes had passed every building in the mission was ablaze. In the ruddy light cast by the conflagration, the savages danced grotesquely, brandishing their missiles and shrieking demoniacally. It was a rude awakening to the peaceful repose of the padres and their small guard. Padre Fuster appears to have been among the first to be roused from sleep by the uproar. He took in the desperate situation at a glance. His first thought was for the two young boys in his charge. Quickly awaking them, he rushed with them across the court to the barracks, where the soldiers by this time were making frantic efforts to stem the onslaught of the howling, savage horde. The carpenter, Jose Urselino, who had been sleeping in the barracks, was valiantly assisting in the defense. He was soon mortally wounded, pierced by arrows. Falling, he exclaimed, Ha! Indio que me has muerto! Dios to lo perdone.. (Oh! Indian who has killed me, may God forgive you!)

Meanwhile in the smithy the sick blacksmith roused from his fitful slumbers, seized a sword and rushed to the door. He was instantly greeted with a flight of arrows. He staggered back into the room. "Companero,"  he gasped, "they have killed me," and fell dead. His companion sprang behind the bellows in the smithy and from this barricade fired into the midst of the savages, instantly killing one of their number. In the confusion that followed he escaped and succeeded in joining Fuster and the soldiers. The little band of Spaniards were now all together; only Padre Jayme was missing. The friars slept in separate apartments. When Fray Luis Jayme saw in the red glow of the burning buildings the menacing figures of the savages he went bravely toward them.

"Amad a Dios, hijos,"  (Love God, my children) he saluted them. The gentle words were scarcely spoken before the howling horde fell upon him, "like wolves upon a lamb," Palou said pityingly. They dragged him to the banks of an arroyo (dried creek) where they tore his gown from his back and, with clubs and stones, dealt brutal blows, on his face and denuded body. Then bruised, torn, and pierced with arrows, his bleeding corpse was thrown into the arroyo. So died the brave and gentle Majorcan friar, Luis Jayme, without a cry, without a moan, calling upon God to receive his soul.`

While this ghastly tragedy was being enacted on the banks of the arroyo, the little band of refugees in the barracks was compelled by the fire now raging furiously, to seek shelter elsewhere. Taking the wounded carpenter with them, they fled to the padres' house, which, though also in flames, was as yet only partially destroyed. Here they made another desperate stand, while Padre Fuster made an ineffectual attempt to find his companion. But the flames soon forced them to flee again. A small adobe structure which had been used as a kitchen had strangely enough escaped the general conflagration, although it was roofed with boughs and dried leaves. The Spaniards succeeded in reaching this building. The fight raged with fury on both sides.

Through a wide aperture in the adobe wall, the well-aimed arrows of the savages were shot with terrible effect. Before the Spaniards succeeded in barricading this opening with boxes and a huge copper kettle, every man among them was wounded. Corporal Rocha, however, contrived to keep up a steady firing. He appears to have been a man, of ingenuity as well as bravery. He shouted commands in a stentorian voice to imaginary combatants that the savages might not become cognizant of their desperate situation, or divine that he alone was fighting them. The blacksmith and one or two of the soldiers were able to assist him by rapidly loading and reloading the muskets, which they passed to him, while he fired with deadly aim into the ranks of the enemy. The savages shot burning arrows on to the inflammable roof of the building. The wounded men strained their feeble strength to the utmost in their efforts to extinguish the flames and ward off the fiery missiles. A sack containing fifty pounds of gunpowder lay on the floor beside them. In this desperate situation Padre Fuster found a hazardous expedient. He threw himself, full length, on the sack and protected it with his body from the burning brands falling thickly about, unaware for a time of a wound received by a blow from a piece of adobe.

In this manner, the priest, boys, soldiers, and artisans, all wounded, some fatally, passed the long hours before dawn. The wild battle cry of the savages, the hissing of their flying arrows, the sharp rattle of Corporal Rocha's muskets, the steady shout of his commands to imaginary combatants, the groans of the wounded and the dying, all mingled together that November night in '775 in the burning San Diego mission. Whether the Indians grew weary with encountering such firm resistance, or whether the neophytes, who now appeared for the first time, really fought them and forced them to disperse, as they afterward claimed to have done, is not certain. But when the sun rose over the ruined mission the next morning the savages were gone, and the neophytes, with loud lamentations, flocked to the little building where the Spaniards were barricaded. They protested their innocence in connection with the terrible events of the night and evinced the utmost anxiety as to the fate of Padre Jayme. The soldiers discredited both their story and their anxiety, but Fuster, believing firmly in their innocence, sent them to search for Jayme. They found his mangled body in the arroyo and bore it back to the mission. When the Spaniards heard their cries and lamentations, they knew what fate had overtaken the brave priest.

Padre Fuster, with pale, drawn face, went out to meet them. The neophytes stopped before him and laid their ghastly burden on the ground. When he looked upon the torn, crushed corpse of his brother friar, the face bruised and battered beyond recognition, Fuster was at first transfixed with horror; then he sobbed aloud, the native converts joining in his lamentation.

A few hours later a solemn procession passed out from the ruined mission toward the fort. Padre Fuster was leading; pale and grief-stricken he showed to the full the grim experience of the night. Behind him came the neophytes, bearing, upon hastily constructed tapestles—Indian stretchers—the wounded, the charred body of the blacksmith and the mutilated remains of their gentle; friend and teacher, Fray Luis Jayme. The bright November sun shone down upon them as they slowly took their way to the presidio, whispering as they went, looking to the right and to the left in fearful expectation that the savages might come upon them again. In the fort none had heard of the night's tragedy. The little garrison had been allowed to slumber undisturbed. It was afterwards ascertained that the savages had organized themselves into two detachments and had planned to attack garrison and mission simultaneously. But the assault on the mission was begun prematurely and the Indians lurking near the presidio, waiting for the signal of attack, became alarmed lest some watchful sentinel, seeing the light of the burning buildings, should arouse the sleeping garrison, and so discover their presence. They hurried off and joined the savages in the mission.

The next day Padre Fuster read the burial service over the dead. Couriers were at once despatched with tidings of the tragedy to Fray Junipero and Rivera. The latter was urged speedily to send reinforcements. Taking counsel of their fears, the little garrison prepared for a vigorous defense in the event of an attack. They had ground for their fear, for rumors were afloat too numerous and persistent to be discredited, that the savages had disappeared only to return in augmented numbers to assault the presidio.

More than a month had elapsed since the disaster to the mission, when the couriers reached Monterey. Traveling was slow through the picturesque California wilderness. Late one December evening the commandant was startled out of his repose by the announcement that messengers from the south desired speech with him. They were instantly admitted to his presence where they gave a detailed account of the San Dieguenos' revolt and delivered Fuster's letters, substantiating their terrible tale. Rivera ordered his horse saddled, and in spite of the lateness of the hour galloped over the hills to the San Carlos mission.

The surprise of Junipero and Palou, when the commandant suddenly appeared before them, speedily changed to dismay on realizing from his disturbed countenance that he was the bearer of evil news. Yet when he poured out the tale of the revolt, of the destruction of the mission, and of Padre Jayme's martyrdom, Junipero exclaimed almost exultingly: "God be thanked, now the soil is watered, now will the reduction of the San Dieguenos be complete." In his mind there was no doubt that Jayme had died the most enviable of all deaths—that of martyrdom. It was not even necessary to say masses for his departed spirit. But that due honor be paid to the martyred brother, and in fulfillment of the promise made when the missionaries first came to California, Junipero ordered twenty masses said in all the missions for the repose of the dead friar's soul.

In the meanwhile Rivera had completed his traveling preparations. Junipero was anxious to accompany him, but the commandant, fearing the old man's feebleness would retard the speed of the journey, frankly told him so and set off alone with his soldiers. The president's principal object in desiring to go with Rivera was to be on the spot to intercede for the Indians. He feared they would be dealt with too severely. His own policy was one of kindness. In his eyes the savages were little more than children, and their crimes committed in ignorance of their enormity. That these views were not shared by the military authorities in California, or even by all the Franciscans, he well knew. He wrote the friars minute directions as to the course he wished them to pursue. He also wrote to the guardian of San Fernando, enclosing the letters that he had received from Fuster. Then he wrote to the viceroy.

After giving him a clear account of the events, he added that he had no fear the missionaries would lose enthusiasm in their work; they would, on the contrary, he felt convinced, be envious of the happy death that had befallen their brother and companion. His main anxieties incident to the revolt were due to the consequences which might arise if the "poor, ignorant creatures "were too harshly punished. But knowing well his excellency's great clemency he hoped that he would exercise it for the benefit of the Indians who had participated in the murder of Padre Jayme. The deed was done no doubt through ignorance of its enormity and through the instigation of the Evil One. Such clemency would do much towards attracting them to the good and benign Catholic religion. He further expressed confidence that the fervent Catholic zeal of His Excellency would hasten the rebuilding of the San Diego mission and the founding of San Juan Capistrano. In order to prevent a repetition of similar disasters, he would suggest augmenting the mission guards. When the Indians saw the increased force for defense they would restrain themselves, and their reduction and eternal salvation would thereby be accomplished peacefully.

This letter was eminently characteristic of Junipero and shows clearly his attitude toward the Indians, an attitude full of humanity, love, and gentleness. His letter had to be carried overland to Baja California and from there by boat and courier to Mexico. Three months at least would elapse before it could reach its destination, and as many more ere Junipero would receive the reply of the viceroy.

The president, in the meanwhile, saw small chance of having his policies adopted by Rivera. That officer stopped at San Antonio and San Luis Obispo on his way south! The general feeling of uneasiness which existed in the missions determined the commandant to leave some of the soldiers he had° brought with him to increase the guards. When he arrived at San Gabriel he was fortunate enough to meet Anza with his party of colonists destined for San Francisco. Anza had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He had again successfully crossed the great desert; on this occasion with women and children in his caravan; eight of the latter had been born on the journey. His march had been an extremely difficult one. That he accomplished it without noteworthy mishap is additional evidence of his skill as a leader.

Rivera and Anza held a consultation. They agreed on the advisability of postponing temporarily the affairs of the colonists. It was decided to leave the families at San Gabriel while the lieutenant colonel with part of his troops accompanied Rivera to San Diego, to assist him in protecting the presidio  and in punishing the Indians. Accordingly the next day the combined forces left San Gabriel. After four days of forced marching they reached San Diego. They were received with acclamations of delight by the weary little band of Spaniards in the presidio. Lieutenant Ortega, in particular, felt an infinite relief from his long-continued anxiety of guarding a garrison with a handful of soldiers. The savages, however, made no attack upon the presidio, and if they had contemplated doing so, the arrival of strong reinforcements was a sufficient incentive to alter their plans.

The course which Rivera now pursued met with Anza's disapproval, even with his contempt. He had come prepared for a short and vigorous campaign against the Indians which would have the result of intimidating them and forestalling future attempts at murder and pillage. Rivera possessed neither the sagacity nor energy of his brother officer, nor the human clemency which distinguished Fray Junipero. He chose to follow a course utterly at variance with the policy of both men. He began a series of investigations by making raids on neighboring rancherias, capturing the chieftains, and compelling them to testify by means of severe floggings after which they were either liberated or imprisoned. A period of inaction succeeded, then the raids were once more begun. Such a course accomplished nothing, unless it was to increase the hostility of the Indians without the good effect of intimidating them. Thoroughly disgusted, Anza determined to return to San Gabriel, and conclude the business upon which he had come to California. He was hastened in this decision by the arrival of couriers bearing letters from the San Gabriel padres, informing him they could no longer supply food to his colonists, except to the injury of their neophytes. This news afforded him an excellent opportunity of leaving without a serious break with Rivera. The month he had spent with the vacillating commandant had sorely tried his patience. Leaving ten of his men to assist the presidio  force, he joyfully turned his back on San Diego, after having obtained from Rivera a promise that the establishments in San Francisco should not be delayed more than two months. A few days later he was greeting his little army of colonists encamped in San Gabriel.

[Illustration] from Junipero Serra by A. H. Fitch


The colonists were overjoyed at the return of their leader. They were anxious to push on to their destination, to the shores of the great San Francisco Bay, where they were to make their homes and form the garrison of the new presidio, as well as the guard for the new missions. Preparations were at once begun for breaking camp and before long all was in readiness for the journey.

The colonists numbered about two hundred, including the members of their families. This was the first introduction of Spanish women in Alta California. Their presence was hailed with delight by the soldiers of the escolta, many of whom had not seen a woman—other than the uncouth Indian—for full seven years.

It was an imposing cavalcade that Anza headed one bright morning in February from the. San Gabriel mission. The long column consisted of the officer's private escort, the chaplain of the expedition, Padre Font, the soldiers and settlers with their women and children, the pack animals and some seven hundred head of horses, mules, and cattle.

Anza left twelve men with their families to augment the mission guard, a precaution deemed necessary in view of the recent disturbances in San Diego. The travelers passed down to the seashore, which they followed a certain distance. They crossed numerous rivers, so swollen from heavy rains that fording them was difficult, while the route they had to traverse was in many places wellnigh impassable, the train more than once becoming embedded in the deep mire. This was especially the case as the travelers approached San Luis Obispo. The mules and horses had to be unloaded and the women, good-humored and bedaubed with mud, had to wade as best they could through the slimy, oozy sediment, while the men put forth all their efforts to urge the weary animals onward.

They rested for a brief season in the mission, then pushed on again, crossing the mountains and more turbulent, swollen streams, till they reached San Antonio. Here the friars greeted them hospitably and ordered two fat hogs slaughtered to feast upon, and while their guests ate, they listened to the news Anza had to give of affairs in San Diego, since the revolt. Finally, seventeen days after leaving San Gabriel, the expedition arrived at Monterey. In the long journey, lasting ninety-eight days from Sonora to California, and in the subsequent shorter journey from San Gabriel, Lieutenant Colonel Anza had led his party of men, women, and children safely and without mishap to Monterey, almost within sight of their destination. It was wonderful achievement and one the gallant officer might well have been proud of.

The arrival of the colonists created a pleasant excitement in the presidio  where officers and soldiers, like all their comrades in California, saw Indians more often than white men and had never a glimpse of a white woman. Even the sentinel who tramped back and forth on their interminable beat, craned their necks and listened delightedly to the babble of sound that came to them. From Carmel Fray Junipero hurried over to greet the newcomers, and with him came the padres Crespi and Palou. After a thanksgiving service, Anza gladly accepted Junipero's invitation to stay at San Carlos pending his return south. The accommodations in the presidio  were of the meanest and offered few if any comforts. Anza's health showed the effects of long continued bodily fatigue; no sooner was he installed in the mission than he was seized with a painful illness which confined him for the space of a week or more to his bed. While he was still in this deplorable condition, his lieutenant, Morago, came over from Monterey to see him. He brought dispatches from Rivera, the contents of which roused in the sick man the deepest indignation. The commandant, regardless of his promise that the San Francisco settlements should be founded within the next two months, had sent orders that the colonists should build houses for themselves at Monterey, as a year or more would elapse before they could establish themselves in their permanent home on the shores of the great northern bay. Morago reported that the people were muy desconsolada  (very disconsolate) over this long postponement.

Calling for his writing materials, Anza promptly wrote to Rivera, reminding him of the agreement between them regarding the establishment of the colonists. He said that if the Seņor Commandante  found himself unable to leave San Diego at the present time, he had only to permit Morago to attend to the business of founding the San Francisco settlements, that he was a man whom he might implicitly trust to manage the business successfully; or if the Senor Commandante objected to this arrangement, he, Anza, would gladly delay his departure and attend to the matter himself. This letter was dispatched by the same courier who had brought Rivera's orders to Monterey.

A week later, Anza, though still suffering from his recent serious illness, in spite of the kindly remonstrances of Junipero, left the mission to visit in person the great San Francisco harbor, for the purpose of surveying a suitable site for the new settlements. He confidently expected to find Rivera's answer to his letter awaiting him on his return from this trip.

Before he left, he held long conferences with Junipero, dealing with the affairs of the province. It was through Anza that the president received his first intimation of Rivera's punitive measures in the south. Widely as Junipero and Anza differed in their policies towards the San Diego Indians, they agreed in this, that both favored a prompt cessation of hostilities; Junipero, because they should never have commenced; and Anza, because they should have been short, sharp, and decisive. Alive to the peril of Rivera's course, Junipero wrote urging him to deal leniently with the Indians, and to suspend hostilities which were doing more harm than good. He added that though the living padres should be protected "as the apple of God's eye," the dead padre should be left "to enjoy God "and thus good be returned for evil. But the commandant was not disposed to take priestly advice. He continued with the raids, the captures, the floggings, the imprisonments, in short, with a petty, teasing sort of persecution which did not reach the dignity of warfare. He vouchsafed not the least attention to Anza's letters and when that officer returned from his exploration of San Francisco he found to his mortification that his letter had been ignored. It soon became evident that nothing could be done with Rivera. Anza became more and more impatient, and Junipero grew ever more anxious. Progress in California was at a standstill, while her military ruler pursued a course which materially hindered, rather than helped, the conquest.

An event now occurred which precipitated a rupture between Rivera and the missionaries. One of the ringleaders of the revolt, an escaped neophyte, returned apparently repentant for his share in that November night's tragedy. In cases of capital crime the military authorities had jurisdiction in California. This the friars understood perfectly and so did the wily neophyte, for though he returned voluntarily to the presidio  he took the precaution of seeking refuge in the church, where neither civil nor military law could molest him. The privilege of the sanctuary which Protestant England under James I abolished was still in force in the eighteenth century in most Catholic countries, and the savage on the distant shores of the Pacific, if he professed Christianity, was entitled to the same protection accorded by the church to the highest nobleman in the domain of his most Catholic Majesty, Carlos III. So it happened that when Rivera announced his determination of seizing the fugitive, the padres were one in sternly opposing him.

In extenuation of his purposed act, he reminded the friars that the building had been originally constructed for a warehouse, that it was only temporarily serving the purpose of a church, and therefore the privilege of sanctuary could not be given criminals within its walls. The missionaries considered this argument unworthy of consideration. Fuster warned the commandant not to violate the sanctity of the place. Rivera gave scant heed to padre's admonition. With a squad of armed soldiers he entered the church with drawn sword and seized the quaking neophyte. The friars watched these proceedings with deep indignation. Rivera's conduct seemed to them little short of blasphemous. When he emerged triumphantly from the building with his captive, Fuster launched, at him the anathema of excommunication. The next morning Rivera attended mass according to his usual custom, but the officiating priest stopped the services and peremptorily ordered the offending commandant to leave the church.

His excommunication preyed heavily upon Rivera's mind. He determined to go to Monterey and seek absolution from Fray Junipero. Accordingly he hurried north in all haste, carrying Fuster's letter to the president, relating the facts leading to his excommunication. He paid small heed to the affairs of the missions he passed on his way north. The anxiety of his mind made him indifferent to everything but the bald fact of his excommunication. He had lived too many years in Baja California, remote from the world, from the progressive spirit of the times, from the trend of new thought and that great breaking away from the traditions and opinions of the past, to take lightly the anathema Padre Fuster had hurled at him. The greater part of his life had been passed in a country where the only men of learning, or even of ordinary education with whom he came in contact, were the Jesuit missionaries in the peninsula, and it may well be supposed that whatever influence they exerted over his mind did not lie in the direction tending to abjure clerical control.

One is inclined to extend to him a full measure of sympathy. He was unquestionably a man of weak character, obstinate as weak characters are prone to be, and too frequently irritable and sullen, but his good qualities were many. As an officer he showed himself considerate towards his men. Whatever hardships and privations they were compelled to encounter, he was ready to share with them and he did not use his authority to force upon them tasks which he himself would have shunned. When he determined to defy the church and tear the fugitive neophyte from the sacred shelter of her arms, he did not detail for this task, as he well might have done, some noncommissioned officer, but himself led the squad which besieged the sanctuary and captured the Indian. He was honest in his efforts to serve his country, nor is there any evidence that he ever went counter to his own judgment; yet this very fact, paradoxical as it sounds, remains the serious defect in his character, his own judgment being, for the most part, a very poor affair.

He had passed the mission San Luis Obispo on his northward journey, lost, as lately was habitual to him, in gloomy revery, when he was roused from his abstraction by the distant, rythmetical sound of galloping horses' hoofs. Now horses in California were of Spanish importation and hitherto unknown to the savages in the country, therefore Rivera knew that one of two things alone could explain their presence in the wilderness, either escaping neophytes had stolen horses and were making off with their booty—a theft not so uncommon as the Spaniards could have wished—or soldiers, sent out as couriers, were on the trail and would soon appear. This last proved to be the case. Before long, through the lush leafage of the spring foliage, five horsemen made their appearance. They were privates in command of a sergeant, from the Monterey presidio. Rivera questioned them as to the meaning of their presence so far from the post. The sergeant replied that he was the bearer of important letters from Colonel Anza for the commandant. Not in the least interested in any affairs at that moment, except those immediately pertaining to himself, Rivera refused to accept the letters and abruptly dismissed the men, commanding them to fall to the rear and not to join his party. This strange conduct so amazed the sergeant that he entertained fears of his commanding officer's sanity and later expressed these fears to Colonel Anza. In the meantime he withdrew to the rear of the commandant's escort, taking care to keep out of his sight. A few days later, Rivera suddenly summoned the man into his presence and demanded the letters, only, however, to throw them aside without glancing at their contents or so much as breaking their seals.

In these letters Anza had again urged the commandant to give his attention to the matter of the San Francisco establishments, in order that the colonists could settle in their permanent homes within a reasonable length of time; he also announced his own departure from Monterey and requested Rivera to meet him at San Gabriel to discuss "business of importance." As we have seen, Rivera tossed the letters aside, unread, but, probably divining their contents, he wrote an answer, which he gave to the sergeant, ordering him to deliver it speedily to Colonel Anza. Putting spurs to his horse and followed by his men, the sergeant rode madly towards Monterey. Within twenty leagues of the presidio  he came upon Anza himself, returning south accompanied by his escort. He had just bidden farewell to the colonists, who, with their wives and, families, had tearfully watched him depart. Anza also had been deeply affected as he waved them a last good-by, and declared that it was the saddest moment he had experienced since leaving Sonora.

When he met the sergeant and learned that Rivera was hurrying towards Monterey, he was at first profoundly pleased, believing that the commandant could have but one object in coming north; namely, to establish the new settlements at San Francisco. However, he was soon disabused of this belief when the sergeant, requesting a few moments' private conversation, gave him Rivera's letter and stated his belief that the writer was not in his right mind, that he had in fact gone utterly daft. Anza gave small heed to these confidences. He immediately tore open and read the letter; it contained nothing more than a curt refusal to permit the founding of the San Francisco settlements.

Anza's indignation was extreme, the more so as his request for a consultation at San Gabriel had been entirely ignored. The two officers passed one another on the road. They exchanged the ordinary salutations of the day, then Rivera, without further speech than a short adios calmly rode on. This behavior was more than Anza could tolerate in silence.

"Your reply to my letters may be sent to Mexico or wherever you like," he called after him furiously.

"'Tis well," replied Rivera over his shoulder, with gloomy stateliness.

It was an exasperating reply to a man who has just succeeded in losing his temper. Anza determined to report the whole matter to the viceroy. He could gain nothing by remaining longer in California. He reluctantly decided to return to Mexico without delay. He had been extremely unwilling to leave the country before seeing his colonists settled in their new homes; yet he was obliged to do that very thing. An attachment had sprung up between the commander and his people. He had safely led them thousands of miles over a country practically unexplored, through vast stretches of dreary desert. He had faced dangers and privations with them; had been patient and considerate with their women and children, and earned for himself the highest reward a leader can receive from his followers, namely their affection and respect. Nevertheless, he felt that he had failed them because of his inability to bring them to their final destination on the shores of the great San Francisco Bay. But he was not invested with authority sufficient to overrule the decree of the military governor of California.

Rivera continued his journey to Monterey. When he arrived he sent word to Junipero that he had letters for him which he desired to deliver personally, but that illness prevented his going to San Carlos. Junipero was in complete ignorance of the recent events which had taken place in San Diego. He hastened to Monterey. He found Rivera's "illness" nothing more serious than a slight pain in the leg. He also found his letters broken open, including the one from Padre Fuster. He, however, accepted the commandant's explanation that the seal had been broken inadvertently and that the letters had not been read. Rivera then poured out the story of his excommunication and the causes leading to it. But when he concluded, with a request for immediate absolution Junipero told him that in so serious a matter he would have to consult with his brother friars. Accordingly, he took leave of Rivera and returned to his mission on the shores of the blue Carmel Bay. Here he summoned Palou and Crespi into his cell and laid the matter before them. After taking counsel together, the three friars decided that Rivera could obtain absolution only by returning the San Diego neophyte to the sanctuary from which he had forcibly removed him. This decision was forwarded to the commandant, who, without further attempt to remove the ban placed upon him, and without the least intention of yielding to the priests' demands regarding the Indian culprit, prepared to return south.. As on a former occasion, Junipero asked permission to accompany him. It is not strange that he again on this occasion was refused.

Rivera had tarried just three days in Monterey. He traveled rapidly, hoping to overtake Anza on the road. The day previous to his departure he had sent couriers in hot haste after the irate colonel, with a letter announcing his own immediate return south, apologizing for his past incivility, excusing his conduct on the score of ill health, and expressing the hope that Anza would await his arrival in order to hold the consultation he had previously requested.

Anza received this letter while stopping over-night at the mission, San Luis Obispo. His anger had not yet had time to cool; therefore, while he consented to await Rivera's coming, he flatly declined to give him a personal interview, and sent word to the commandant that all communication between them must be in writing, adding that even this concession he was induced to make solely in the interests of the province. San Gabriel was selected as the rendezvous.

The two officers arrived at the mission within 'a few days of one another. True to his determination, Anza refused to meet the commandant. Several letters were exchanged, in one of which Anza enclosed a description of the site he had selected for the San Francisco settlements and a map of the survey he had made. His business with Rivera he then considered concluded. Accordingly, he sent that officer word that he was on the eve of resuming his journey to Sonora, but that if Rivera had reports to forward to the viceroy, he would take them and would wait three days in the mission to accord him an opportunity to write them. Anza was well aware that in any communication which Rivera might choose to send to the viceroy, he could not Well avoid mentioning so important a matter as the affairs of the colonists and the postponement of their establishment at San Francisco; and the indignant colonel was not without a secret malicious satisfaction in the conviction that Rivera's explanations, whatever they might be, would fail to meet with the viceroy's approbation.

But the commandant politely declined to avail himself of Anza's offer to wait for his reports, stating he could send them later by couriers who would have no difficulty in overtaking the travelers on the road.

Anza indeed, had not journeyed far when couriers caught up with him, bringing, not dispatches for the viceroy, but a letter addressed to the guardian of San Francisco College and one for Anza himself, in which Rivera said he would esteem it a favor if Anza would present the writer's excuses to the viceroy for not forwarding a report at this time, but that he "lacked a paper connected with the affair of a criminal who had taken refuge in a place where mass is said in San Diego."

It is clear from this that the poor commandant was still unable to concentrate his perturbed mind on any subject not dealing with his excommunication. But Anza had reached the limit of his patience, and this final complete ignoring of the important business which had brought him to California fanned the flames of his anger afresh. He returned both letters to Rivera, with the caustic message that "he was not the mail," (que el no era correo)  and that he would only carry letters referring to the founding of San Francisco.

Rivera received this reply without comment and set out for San Diego. Whether or not he suddenly became uneasy in reflecting on the report Anza would make to the viceroy, or whether he put forth an earnest effort to finally forget his private affairs and take up those of the province he was commanding, is uncertain, but at all events he hurriedly sent an order to Monterey, authorizing the immediate establishment of the San Francisco presidio. But at the same time his hostility towards the friars who had robbed him of his peace of mind was made sufficiently manifest by prohibiting the founding of the San Francisco mission. He then took up again his useless succession of petty punitive expeditions against the savages. It was generally believed by the soldiers that the commandant's mind had become unbalanced. Whether the missionaries shared this belief is not apparent, but Colonel Anza, before leaving California, did not hesitate to express his opinion that Captain Rivera y Moncada was afflicted not with "madness" but with a disposition in which amiability and courtesy were conspicuously absent. It had required no small degree of tact on the part of Junipero to maintain peaceful relations with Rivera. In this the president had been entirely successful until he refused Rivera's request for absolution. He could hope nothing now from the gloomy commandant who seized every opportunity of thwarting him in his most cherished plans. There was no authority within several thousand miles to appeal to against his decisions.

Although the order which postponed indefinitely the founding of the San Francisco mission was a great disappointment to Junipero, it was less bitter than Rivera's absolute refusal to permit the rebuilding of the ruined San Diego mission. He was, however, for the present obliged to acquiesce in both decisions. He took the precaution of sending Palou with the colonists to San Francisco, that he might be on hand to act promptly the instant permission was given to found the northern mission. He himself determined to go to San Diego and attempt the difficult task of persuading the recalcitrant commander to allow the restoration of Alta California's first mission. But in the meanwhile he was forced to await an opportunity of leaving. The regulations did not permit a friar to journey alone through long stretches of country populated with savages and Fray Junipero had been unable to obtain from Rivera an escort. Finally the transport San Antonio  arrived in port. After discharging her cargo of supplies she returned to San Blas via San Diego, the last day of June. Junipero promptly availed himself of this chance; he embarked on board the vessel and eleven days later was in San Diego.