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"Gilded Wooden Crosses".

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"Gilded Wooden Crosses" In the 1800's, the Catholic Church had the purpose to spread the gospel of Christ into every land on earth. Missions and missionaries were built all over America but were primarily in California and were maintained to effectively reach out to mostly non-Christians. With the missionaries they brought their religious practices, items, artifacts, and beliefs in hopes of converting Native American Indians to Christianity. In the De Saisset Musem, in Santa Clara University, a small gilded wooden cross caught my attention and sparked my interest in finding out how this cross played a part in the lives of the Indians and monks at the missions, and would also give me a better understanding of how they incorporated the Catholic religion in their everyday life. The small gilded wood crosses was made somewhere between 1797 - 1807. They were comprised of wood, plaster and gilt, which was either a thin layer of gold or something simulating gold. Records in the Santa Clara University Archives document that these crosses were made from wood from the original cross, altar, and tabernacle from the first mission church in California, consecrated by Father Junipero Serra in 1777 and abandoned after a severe flood in 1802. ...read more.


it reminds people of the death of Jesus, and the purpose of why he was here on earth and that he died for our sins so people who are saved could go to heaven, but more importantly he died because he wanted to give us the gift of salvation and everlasting life. The monks went to California because they wanted to tell people about Christ and save them from eternal damnation. This was the purpose and the cross they had to carry to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ. The American Indians believed in a religious system that included cosmology, where they made stories as to how they were created and how their society was formed. With this, they believed there was a "Master Spirit" who was all-powerful and all knowing and a group of lesser beings who had a specific task or duty, like an evil spirit who brought disaster, suffering, and death. Also, they believed that there was an afterlife and that the human soul passed on and was a culmination of all the good deeds and practices that made the earth a better place to live in. ...read more.


As more Indians converted to Christianity, the cross was mostly seen around the necks of converted Indians and was often displayed in pride as if they were carrying their burdens and trying to live a life like Jesus. They were also seen right next to the front doors of their homes as a kind of omen to ward off evil or in the middle of the room, adorned with flowers, candles, and incense as a kind of sanctuary in which they could pray, relax, or even fellowship. But the main reason the cross was kept in their home was to remind them that Jesus died for their sins and since they repented their sins, accepted Christ Jesus, and put their trust in him they will be saved and will spend eternal life with him in heaven. The Franciscan Monks and the Native American Indians played a significant part in shaping the society of California. The beautiful language, religion, culture and history shows us the great advancements they did together. Religious artifacts like the cross, helped guide and symbolized the value and pride they put in religion. But it is the way they utilized it and shared it with others that impacted California. ...read more.

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