Guiding Questions — Mission Religion

Religion in the Missions

1. Is there any good comparison of the missionary work of the Jesuits in the east with that of the Franciscans in the west?

2. Did any other religious groups beside the Catholic Church start missions in California?

3. How did solar geometry and ecclesiastical cosmology impact the Natives’ perspective of the Missions and their allegiance to Christianity? Identify best practices for using Visual Literacy Skills (VTS) when observing the Missions so students can gain a deeper sense of appreciation for the original purpose of these architectural structures.

4. Were Catholic orders predominantly from one country? Father Kino, who established San Xavier del Bac in Tucson, was a Jesuit from Italy. Were the Franciscans mainly from Spain and trusted due to their country of origin?

5. How  would  one  compare  the  Jesuit  missions  to  the  Franciscan  missions?  Were  there differences in the way in which various religious orders treated indigenous people?

6. Was the administration of the Jesuit missions different from that of the Franciscan ones? Did the Jesuits and Franciscans have different goals?

7. Were any Native American rituals allowed by the missionaries with regard to Catholicism?

8. When naming their missions, was there any significance to their choice of saints, or was it simply an arbitrary selection?

9. In order to Christianize the Pagan masses (ie. Constantine), the ancient rituals and celebrations honoring solar, lunar, and fertility events were superimposed by “Christian” holidays, thus slowly changing the focus of the worship/culture to Christianity. Some features of ancient practice held out, for instance, the Christmas tree, the Yule log, the Easter egg. What are some forms of ancient Native American religon that are still evident and integrated on the west coast?