Penance of Magdalena and Other Tales

J. Smeaton Chase
Penance of Magdalena and Other Tales

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Title: The Penance of Magdalena & Other Tales of the California Missions
Author: J. Smeaton Chase
Release Date: October, 2005 [EBook #9063] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on September 2, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by David A. Schwan

The Penance of Magdalena
And Other Tales of the California Missions

By J. Smeaton Chase

With Illustrations

Among the California Missions the southern group form a natural unit, just as does, geographically, Southern California itself--the region covered by the familiar California formula, "South of the Tehachapi." It is thought that this little set of tales, extracted from the larger work, The California Padres and Their Missions, in which Mr. Charles F. Saunders and the writer collaborated, may be welcomed by those many persons whose interest in Mission affairs is more or less limited to the five here included, which are, probably, the most notable, historically and architecturally, of the whole chain of these venerable monuments of Franciscan zeal.
J. S. C.

San Juan Capistrano
The Penance of Magdalena

Slowly, very slowly, the greatest and most beautiful of the Missions of Alta California had risen among the swelling lomas of the valley of the San Juan. Brick by brick and stone by stone the simple Indian laborers, under the tutelage of the Fathers, had reared a structure which, in its way and place, might not unfitly be compared with those great cathedrals of Europe in which we see, as in a parable, how inward love and faith work out in material beauty. Huge timbers of pine and sycamore, hewn on Palomar, the Mountain of Doves, many miles away, had been hauled by oxen over trackless hill and valley, to form the joists and rafters that one sees to-day, after the lapse of more than a century, firm and serviceable, fastened with wooden spikes and stout rawhide lashings.
In all these labors Te¡ªfilo had taken a principal part. As a child he had been christened with the name of Lucas, and had carried it through boyhood. But when about fourteen years of age, he had been transferred from the duties of a herder to learn the simple crafts taught in the workshops; and his industry and intelligence had so commended him to the overseers and Padre Josef that one day the latter, praising him for some task especially well performed, had said, half in jest, "Hijo mio, we must christen you over again. You are excelent¡¯simo, as San Lucas said of San Te¡ªfilo in the superscription to his holy evangel; so I shall call you Te¡ªfilo, excelent¡¯simo Te¡ªfilo, instead of Lucas; why not?" And Te¡ªfilo the boy became from that day, though Lucas he remained in the record of baptisms kept in the tall sheepskin volume in the Father's closet.
So useful and diligent was the boy that the Father soon took him to be his own body servant, and many an hour did Te¡ªfilo pass handling with religious care the sacred vessels and vestments and books in the sacristy and in the Father's rooms. One day the Father noticed with displeasure that on the blank flyleaf of his best illuminated missal, lately sent to him by a friend in his old college at Cordoba, in Spain, there were some rough drawings in red and blue. Evidently the person who had drawn them had tried to obliterate his work, but had only partly succeeded. The Father could not help noticing, however, that, crude as were the formal floral designs and sacred emblems that had been copied by the culprit from the emblazoned letterings and chapter headings of the missal, the work showed undoubted taste and talent; and this gave him an idea. Why should he not adorn with frescoes, in color, the cornices, and perhaps even the dome, of the new
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