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Column: A dying girl, a fateful blessing and the lessons of California’s tragic origin myth

One weekday morning last month, I went to Camp Pendleton on a mission. Finding the Forgotten Fountain of Youth in California.

Specifically, I was looking for the state’s historic landmark No. 562 — Little Christian Girl, also known as La Christianita. In the northwest corner of the base is a plaque commemorating the baptism of a Native American toddler girl whose missionary died in 1769.

it was First baptism in present-day California..

La Cristianita has been celebrated for generations as a fundamental moment in our history. This is a mythical metaphor that Europeans changed the land from wilderness to Eden. California’s earliest journalists in Spanish and English were out of breath and told the case. Newspapers containing this have written articles about the quest to find the original Lacristianita spot. This spot seems to change location every few years.

White actors have recreated baptism for decades: near the historic site itself, In the nearby city of San Clemente, In plays throughout Southern California, from the Veterans Day March to the 1957 Rose Parade tournament, even the trolleys of everything. These events helped to replenish our self-concept in California, where an eternally good life was possible for everyone, even if they really believed.

But today, the story of Lacristianita and its monument are hardly remembered even by their presumptive caretaker of Camp Pendleton, as I soon discovered.

The day before my visit, the demographer said in 2020 California loses inhabitants for the first time.. Despite the damage of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still by far the largest state in the United States, an economic and political power—but population reports California Dreams Death On my text thread, my Facebook page, etc.

I have been ridiculed for a long time In the report of our death. But the problems that plague many of us are real. Housing instability. Climate change. Endless drought. Economic inequality.A disease Slowly wipe out your beloved citrus trees.

Are we facing the end of California as a dream? As a dream?

We needed a place to think about our worries, but we wanted to look back and find a way forward.

The place was Lacristianita. But first, I had to get there.

Corporal Lance on this fact-finding journey. Andrew Cortez will be my attaché for the day. We met at San Onofregate, right next to the 5th highway. So he set the rules of engagement for my pilgrimage. Always follow him. There are no comments on the record. If not, let’s go.

Another SUV drove through Camp Pendleton. Marvel Cinematic Universe Journey Through Quantum Realms.. Suburban street houses led to Vietnamese-era barracks fixed by police headquarters dating back to World War II. The landscape has moved from native trees to fields covered with mustard flowers. Junípero Serra and his companion Franciscan probably sowed To serve as a guidepost when they travel the missionary route of California.

We drove deeper and deeper — actually too deep. Thirty minutes later, Cortez suddenly left Camp Pendleton and entered San Clemente. He finally parked next to a golf course surrounded by whitewashed apartments built in Spanish revival style.

We got lost. His boss gave him the wrong GPS coordinates. Did you know how to get to La Cristianita?

****

The Camp Pendleton sign shows where to park to visit La Cristianita Nita, the first Christian baptismal site in California today.

(Gustavo Allerano / )

Immediately after demographers reported their harsh findings about California’s depopulation The newspaper provided an autopsy. Talk show and podcast organizers were furious at Democrats who accused them of driving away many with liberal policies. Already devastated by 2020 hell, Californians have bowed our group in unprecedented ways.

The world no longer sees us as the Promised Land. Today, Californians are fleeing for a state that was long thought to be pretending to be our Golden State exceptionalism — Texas, that’s it..

When Cortez sent a text message to his boss about the new coordinates, I told him a brief version of California’s original baptism. There, the idea of ​​the California Dream really started.

In the summer of 1769, the village of Achakemen, now on the border between Orange County and San Diego County, Gaspar de Portora expedition.. The conquerors (about 63, two Franciscans) were the first Europeans to explore the area and were tasked with finding suitable plots for Catholic missions and Spanish settlements. They could have slaughtered the villagers of Acjachemen, as many of their contemporaries did in similar situations throughout the Americas.

However, there was no bloodshed. In this first encounter, Father Francisco Gomez and Father Juan Crespí sought to save the soul for Christ. Gomez is the new Monica Mary Magdalene-Mary Magdalene, who baptized a sick baby whose real name is unknown. Crespi followed up with another dying girl called Margarita. “God takes both of them to heaven,” the latter wrote in his diary, This remains the definitive explanation for the Portora expedition.

Cortez had never heard of this story. Maybe it got better.

The story of La Cristianita set up an unconscious template of how Californians treated and considered the state, especially colored races, for more than two centuries. So it was a little surprising that the legend broke into historic debris as California diversified. Reproduction is finished. The play collected dust In the archive of the local history association. Faijonason, director of Camp Pendleton’s history and museum since 1996, emails that private demands for tours to Lacristianita are currently on average only three times a year.

I felt it wasn’t an Old California legend worth the resurrection. But before it was completely rejected, I had to see La Cristianita pay homage to herself.

After a short break, Cortez and I found the direction we needed (thanks, Google). The road to it went up the properly named Christianites Road and back to Camp Pendleton.

Instead of a 30-minute journey, the drive now took only a few minutes. The road became a hill and a cliff. Soon, I came across a large wooden sign announcing that I had arrived at Lacristianita.

A sycamore tree stood on the bench. A large white cross overlooked the Christianite Canyon. The Pacific Ocean was twinkling in the distance. The huge gravel road hinted at the popularity of past spots.

La Cristianita podium

Dirty and bird droppings on the forehead is the story of La Cristianita, California’s first baptismal site in Camp Pendleton.

(Gustavo Allerano / )

At the beginning of the trail, marked with white stones, there was a printout with a picture of what Lacristianita’s baptism would look like. I explained the history in detail with a short caption, but I could hardly read it. The display was behind a shattered plexiglass soiled with dirt and bird droppings.

Before arriving at the La Christianita monument, I wrote a text stating the way. Cortez and I hike from the sides of the canyon to flowering oaks, native shrubs, and flower oasis for minutes. Hummingbirds flew around as the creatures ran around the undergrowth. The distant sounds of weed wackers and leaf blowers that I saw Marines using to remove mustard flowers a few minutes ago were the only hint of other human activity.

It was as untouched and precious as I saw in California.

La Christianita Memorial Camp Pendleton

Lacristianita Memorial in Camp Pendleton. Nearby was the site of the first Christian baptism in California in 1769.

(Gustavo Allerano / )

The shrine itself is simple. A replica of a baptismal font covered in a well house. A fallen palm tree lay beside it. Prior to this humble scene was a small rock wall with a bolted bronze ornament proclaiming that Father Gomez had baptized “near this spring.”

It had a date I didn’t expect: 1957. I thought Lacristianita was built by the Catholic Church, or perhaps the Spanish crown, or the earliest American settlers.

No: A quick search online revealed that the sponsor was the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce. At that time, a similar plaque was installed along the El Camino Real as a tourist trap. Now in front of the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, there is another plaque depicting a Native American woman offering Lacristianita to a tough paddre.

Cortez left my thoughts for a few minutes before we left. An easy downhill move turned out to be a steep uphill. The cool breeze I felt just before it got hot. I said goodbye to my guide and went home.

As the fake Spanish street name of South Orange County climbed up the flashing 5 in front of me, I tried to understand what I just saw. But I was distracted. Hiking burrs were invading the socks.

I let them scratch my leg until I got home. Removing the small spiked orbs suddenly revealed the true meaning of La Christianita.

Her baptismal retellings in newspapers and history books appear as if La Cristianita’s mother agreed to the act. They never reveal that it wasn’t the case, something Crespi freely admitted in his diary.

“Mothers will never show us,” he wrote. Nevertheless, Father Francisco Gomez washed the baby’s head with water “as if he was hugging his mother’s chest.”

A few months later, the Portora expedition returned to the same village of Achakemen on its way back from San Francisco Bay. Crespi remembered it as the place to baptize Lacristianita, but was unaware if he asked about her destiny. After all, it was more important to him that the girl was dead than alive.

“I have no doubt,” writes Crespi.

As California heads for an uncertain future, we need to learn not from baptism, but from the death of an indigenous baby that we remember as La Cristianita. We can no longer treat the nation as Crespi and almost everyone following him used the martyred girl as a toy to realize our dreams without worrying about who would disturb them. ..

Instead, we need to listen to ourselves, the condition. We are sick. Healing is needed, not a sweet promise from now on. We are Lacristianita now.



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