The Spanish Mission System
The Spanish clergy, particularly Jesuits and Franciscans, played a critical role in settling the Southwest using the mission system. Over the centuries, this became the most effective means of “civilizing” natives. Their missions were designed to spread Christianity among, and establish control over, native populations. In some areas, they forced Indians to live in mission communities, where the priests taught them weaving, blacksmithing, candle-making, and leather-working, and forced them to work in orchards, workshops, and fields for long hours. The missions were most successful in New Mexico (despite an Indian revolt in 1680) and California and far less successful in Arizona and Texas. In addition, as Indians converted, a form of Catholicism that was unique to the Americas developed to accommodate the converts
Current Events: Canonization of Spanish missionary Junipero Serra
Junipero Serra, an 18th century Spanish missionary, will be canonized as a saint during Pope Francis’s trip. Some see Father Serra as an American hero, but his sainthood isn’t without controversy.