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Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo
Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

Named for Saint Charles Borromeo of the Carmel River, San Carlos Borromeo de Carlos, is also known as Mission Carmel or Carmel Mission, and one of several personally overseen by Father Junipero Serra. It was originally founded in present-day Monterey in 1770, though Serra sought and received permission to relocate the mission in 1771. (Serra was not fond of the local military governor Pedro Fages, whom mistreated both the local Native Americans and his own soldiers.)

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

After the secularization of the missions about 1833, the mission basilica and grounds fell into ruin, largely as the property could not sustain itself without the forced labor of the local Native Americans, leaving the missionaries abandoned the property. By 1850, there was little left; the roof tiles had been taken by locals for other uses, the remaining roof structure had collapsed in the early 1850s. San Carlos was one of the properties granted and returned to the Roman Catholic church (1859), following a land claim by the local archbishop of the Catholic Church. Substantial restoration efforts began in 1884 with a new roof being placed while funds were raised for a proper restoration. That restoration effort began in 1931 under the care of Monsignor Philip Scher and at the hands of master cabinet marker Henry John Downie. (Downie was first hired to restore a few statues, but the project rapidly grew to restoring the entire mission.)

The bell at the mission is original, though by the grace of goodwill and safe keeping: it was made in Mexico City in 1807, placed in 1820, and removed and stored by Native Americans in 1834 during the secularization period. It was relocated during restoration and reinstalled in the bell tower in 1925, where it remains today.


Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

Founded: June 3, 1770 (#2) by Father (now Saint) Junipero Serra, in present-day Carmel-by-the-Sea, California at 3080 Rio Road.

Visit: Admission ($9.5 adults, $5 children; as of July 2018; if the Basilica [church] is closed, a reduced admission of $5 adults, $3 children is in effect); open daily 9:30am-5pm (entrance doors close at 4:45pm); church hours and services may vary (contact the mission or review its web site for current information). Special events, weddings and funerals may render the Basilica closed to visitors.

Learn more: Mission's Web Site * Wikipedia: Mission San Juan Bautista * Photos I Took * Tour Map (PDF will open in a new window; copyright Carmel Mission Basilica)

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