Home -> Philopolis Press -> Chimes of Mission Bells -> Chapter IX - Rev. Raymond M. Mestres Writes Historical Drama "Fray Junipero"

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Chapter IX

Reverend Raymond M. Mestres of Monterey Writes Historical Drama - "Fray Junipero"

Beautiful among beautiful historical dramas is the mission play "Fray Junipero" written by Reverend Raymond Mestres, pastor of San Carlos Church (Capilla Real de San Carlos) of Monterey. Many men and women have undertaken to write about mission times, but we may safely assert that this good priest so unassuming in what he does, is above all qualified to handle this subject, being first of all a religious, a native of Barcelona, the Metropolis of the Province of Catalonia, which can claim Junipero Serra and so many of the early Spanish missionaries, explorers and settlers, and being too an artist and scholar in every way acquainted with the history of the missions, having made it a special study during his twenty-seven years of residence (as a priest) in four mission towns of California, twenty-one of which have been spent in that chief of mission towns, Monterey.

Unbiased, careful of detail and true to history, while not wanting in artistic setting "Fray Junipero" carries the audience in Act I back to the College of Fernando, when Junipero Serra received his commission to come to California as Father President of the Missionaries who were to christianize that "mysterious vineyard." Act II is a typical picture of California Indian Life. Act III depicts the landing of Serra and Portolá on the shores of Monterey, the taking possession of the land in the name of King Carlos III and the celebration of Junipero Serra's first Mass in Monterey; all facts are taken from the archives preserved in San Carlos Church, consequently historically authentic. Act IV pictures a piquant fiesta scene with Spanish dancing, the scene being laid in the Carmel Valley on the occasion of the baptism of the first white child born in Monterey. This child was born of Spanish parents, Pasqual and Terésa Segura and in baptism received the name of Carlos. According to the records this baptism occurred in May 18, 1782, the ceremony being performed by Fray Junipero Serra just two years before his death. With very slight changes in the names this incident is taken from the archives of San Carlos Mission. Act V represents Fray Junipero Serra receiving the last Sacraments, his death and the grief of the people.

In writing "Fray Junipero" Reverend Raymond Mestres intended it to commemorate the Bicentenary of our hero's birth, and was presented for the first time in Monterey on August 28th, 1913 by local talent. This will be an annual event at Monterey on the same date, August 28th, which is the anniversary of Fray Junipero Serra's death. In spite of poor advertisement the first production of this drama was a decided success. It was intended to be played three nights, but by request a fourth night was added.

As this sketch goes to press, the rehearsing of the second year of the production of "Fray Junipero" begins with great improvement in the staging, and a greater promise of success as it is now much more widely known.

May an ancient Spanish Nativity Play for Christmastide, which Reverend Raymond Mestres intends to translate into English, and which contains glorious music, and a history of mission times, which this scholarly pastor of San Carlos Church has in store, soon delight Californians and California's yearly tide of tens of thousand visitors.

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