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Glimpses of California





DURING the years when Saint Francis went up and down the streets of Assisi, carrying in his delicate unused hands the stones for rebuilding St. Damiano, he is said to have been continually singing psalms, breaking forth into ejaculations of gratitude; his face beaming as that of one who saw visions of unspeakable delight. How much of the spirit or instinct of prophecy there might have been in his exultant joy, only he himself knew; but it would have been strange if there had not been vouchsafed to him at least a partial revelation of the splendid results which must of necessity follow the carrying out, in the world, of the divine impulses which had blazed up in his soul like a fire. As Columbus, from the trend of imperfectly known shores and tides, from the mysterious indications of vague untracked winds, could deduce the glorious certainty of hitherto undreamed

continents of westward land, so might the ardent spiritual discoverer see with inextinguishable faith the hitherto undreamed heights which must be surely reached and won by the path he pointed out. It is certain that very early in his career he had the purpose of founding an order whose members, being unselfish in life, should be fit heralds of God and mighty helpers of men. The absoluteness of self-renunciation which he inculcated and demanded startled even the thirteenth century's standard of religious devotion. Cardinals and pope alike doubted its being within the pale of human possibility; and it was not until after much entreaty that the Church gave its sanction to the "Seraphic Saint's" band of "Fratri Minores," and the organized work of the Franciscan Order began. This was in 1208. From then till now, the Franciscans have been, in the literal sense of the word, benefactors of men. Other of the orders in the Catholic Church have won more distinction, in the way of learning, political power, marvellous suffering of penances and deprivation; but the record of the Franciscans is in the main a record of lives and work, like the life and work of their founder; of whom a Protestant biographer has written: "So far as can be made out, he thought little of himself, even of his own soul to be saved, all his life. The trouble had been on his mind how sufficiently to work for God and to help men."

Under the head of helping men, come all enterprises of discovery, development, and civilization

which the earth has known; and in many more of these than the world generally suspects, has been an influence dating back to the saint of Assisi. America

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most pre-eminently stands his debtor. Of the three to whom belongs the glory of its discovery, one, Juan Perez de Marchena, was a Franciscan friar; the other two, Queen Isabella and Columbus, were members of Saint Francis's Third Order; and of all the splendid

promise and wondrous development on the California coast to-day, Franciscan friars were the first founders.

In the Franciscan College at Santa Barbara is a daguerreotype, taken from an old portrait which was painted more than a hundred years ago, at the College of San Fernando, in Mexico. The face is one, once seen, never to be forgotten; full of spirituality and tenderness and unutterable pathos; the mouth and chin so delicately sensitive that one marvels how such a soul could have been capable of heroic endurance of hardship; the forehead and eyes strong, and radiant with quenchless purpose, but filled with that solemn, yearning, almost superhuman sadness, which has in all time been the sign and seal on the faces of men born to die for the sake of their fellows. It is the face of Father Junipero Serra, the first founder of Franciscan missions in South California. Studying the lineaments of this countenance, one recalls the earliest authentic portrait of Saint Francis, the one painted by Pisano, which hangs in the sacristy of the Assisi church. There seems a notable likeness between the two faces: the small and delicate features, the broad forehead, and the expression of great gentleness are the same in both. But the saint had a joyousness which his illustrious follower never knew. The gayety of the troubadour melodies which Francis sung all through his youth never left his soul: but Serra's first and only songs were the solemn chants of the Church; his first lessons were received in a

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