PALOU, Francisco (ca 1722-ca 1789)- SERRA, Junipero (1713-1784). Relacion Historica de la Vida y Apostolicas Tareas del Venerable Padre Fray Junipero Serra, y de las Misiones que fundo en la California Septentrional, y nuevos establecimientos de Monterey. Mexico: Don Felipe de Zuniga y Ontiveros, 1787.
4to., (7 6/8 x 5 4/8 inches). Engraved portrait of Serra facing page one, folding engraved map matted separately (edges and corners of early leaves expertly strengthened, last leaf remargined, very light dampstaining in margins of a few leaves). Contemporary limp vellum, title written in manuscript on the front cover and spine, remains of two pairs of ties (extremities a bit scuffed, one or two stains).
Provenance: with early inscription of Del P. Beistegui at the foot of the title-page, Sr. Juan Munos Capitan General del provincia de Mord [?]" in the margin of page [xvi], and one or two other early marginal annotations.
First Edition, the issue with "Pro" instead of "Car" at the end of the index , the map with the text "Mar Pacifico" added, and the text above the imprint reading: "A Expensas de Don Miguel Gonzalez Calderon sindico de dicho apostolico colegio".
Francoso's celebrated map "...shows only the California coast and peninsula, with nothing eastward of the mouths of the Colorado and Gila rivers, but while its main purpose was to trace the travels of Father Serra during his years of service along the western coast, it is of interest here because it seems to be the first on which a boundary line was drawn between Lower and Upper California... As will be later noted, the line thus shown was not the boundary eventually established, even at its western end" (Wheat, pp. 128-129).
"Relacion Histoica..." written by Serra's fellow Franciscan, disciple and lifelong friend Palou is the primary source for the life of Father Serra and his founding of the California missions. Serra worked among the natives in the "Sierra Gorda region north of Mexico City. For eight years he translated Christian doctrine and prayers into the language of the Pames Indians. With them, in the mid-1750s, Serra also helped to build a large stone church in Jalpan (in the state of Queretaro in the Sierra Gorda Mountains), which is still used for worship today. His intensity, hard work, and uninhibited delight in God's creation impressed his companions. In 1758 Serra was reassigned to the Mexican capital, where he undertook the duties of administrator at the College of San Fernando and the ministries of a traveling missionary priest. During this time, plagued by asthma and a painful leg injury, Serra increasingly identified with the Catholic mystical tradition that sought spiritual purification through suffering.
"In early 1767 King Charles III suddenly expelled the Jesuits from Spain and its colonies. The following year Serra was placed in charge of the orphaned Jesuit missions on the Baja (lower) California peninsula. Moreover, with the Russians moving from Alaska down the western coast of North America, the Spanish charged him to establish missions in Alto (upper) California. It was this final venture that became Serra's greatest legacy.
"At the age of fifty-five Serra accompanied the overland "Sacred Expedition" under Gaspar de Portolá, which reached San Diego in the summer of 1769 and founded the first mission in American California there on 16 July. The next objective was Monterey, some 400 miles to the north, where the second mission, San Carlos Borromeo, was founded on 3 June 1770. Fortified by its presidio, Monterey served as the capital of California and as Serra's headquarters as he served as the father president of the missions for the next fourteen years. Under his direction, nine California missions were founded, teaching the Indian peoples Christian doctrine, literacy, agricultural techniques, building, pottery making, and other skills. Following the teachings of his order and the ideals of Catholic Spain, Serra administered a mission system that helped to transform tribal hunting and gathering economies with loose social organization into more settled, regimented communities that sought to "prepare souls for heaven." By the time of Serra's death an estimated 5,000 neophytes were living in the missions along with 500 Spanish soldiers and settlers" (James D. Smith for ANB).
Palou began his study of philosophy with Serra in 1740, and with him "volunteered for the American Indian missions, and joined the missionary College of San Fernando de Mexico early in 1740. With his friend he was also in the same year assigned to the Indian missions of the Sierra Gorda, north of Querétaro, and laboured there until 1759 when with Father Serra he was recalled in order to work among the Indians in the San Sabás region, Texas. For some reason the college failed to accept those missions. Father Palou was therefore employed in the City of Mexico until 1767 when with Father Serra and fourteen other Franciscan friars he was sent to Lower California. In April, 1768, on reaching Loreto, he was given charge of Mission San Francisco Javier. In the following year, when Father Serra proceeded to establish the missions of Upper California, Father Palou succeeded him in the office of presidente or superior of the lower missions. While at the head of the friars in Lower California, he demonstrated his eminent fitness for the position in a protracted struggle with the hostile Governor, Phelipe Barn, whom he held at bay, and whose schemes against the missionaries and Indians he defeated while in the territory. When in 1773 the Franciscans turned the peninsula missions over to the Dominican Fathers, Father Palou joined his brethren in Upper California and acted as superior until the return from Mexico of Father Serra in 1774. In November of that year he accompanied Captain Rivera's exploring expedition to the Bay of San Francisco, and on 4 December, planted the cross on Point Lobos in view of the Golden Gate and Pacific Ocean, the first priest to reach that point. In June, 1776, he accompanied Lieutenant Moraga to the same bay, and on June 28, offered up the first holy Mass on the spot later under the Mission Dolores or San Francisco, which Father Palou founded a few weeks after. He remained in charge until July, 1784, when he was called to Mission San Carlos in order to administer the last sacraments to his fatherly friend and superior, Father Junipero Serra. When the latter had passed away on 28 August, 1784, Father Palou became acting presidente of the missions. Age, ill-health, and the necessity of having an experienced advocate near the vice-regal court to defend the rights of the Indians and their spiritual guides against the assumptions of the governor, induced Father Palou to retire to the College of San Fernando in September, 1785. In July of the following year he was elected guardian of the college, and held this office until his death. While in charge of Mission San Francisco he compiled his "Noticias" in four volumes. It is the standard history of the California missions from 1767 to 1784. At San Carlos Mission he wrote the Life of Father Serra which contains the history of the first nine missions, San Diego to San Buenaventura" (Catholic Encyclopedia online). Palau 210789; Medina 7731; Wagner 168; Sabin 58392; Phillips, p. 184. Catalogued by Kate Hunter