Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Carmel Mission: The Mysterious Tripping Stone

It is said that the unseen spirit of Father Junipero Serra haunts one of California’s Spanish Missions.

Father Junipero Serra
Father Serra arrived in the California colony in 1768 and quickly became one of its prominent citizens. The King of Spain decided the only way for his country to retain its claim to California was to establish missions and presidios--military posts.

Father Serra was appointed padre-presidente or father president and was assigned to oversee all 21 missions.

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Rio Carmelo was established in 1770, and the Father made this location his headquarters from 1770-1784.

Carmel Mission

When Father Serra died, he was buried beneath the sanctuary floor in front of the altar at Mission San Carlos.

In 1833, when the Mexican Congress decreed that all the California missions were to be secularized the mission at Carmel was closed in 1834. Its Indian laborers no longer bound by law, left.

The mission was then abandoned for half a century. By 1851 all that was left of the mission’s church was its 5-foot-thick walls-- its shingled roof had collapsed leaving rubble in its sanctuary.

It was at this time the mystery of the “tripping stone” began. In the 1860s a visitor--most likely looking for something to steal--suddenly tripped as he approached the churches’ altar. He slammed down hard on his knees facing the cross--a position he would never have voluntarily taken.

After this incident, it was whispered that this was not an accident. Over time a pattern became apparent.

Even though the stone floor of the sanctuary is even and smooth casual visitors to the church began to trip and fall to their knees facing the altar. They fall directly atop Father Serra’s resting place.

People began to believe the Father’s spirit was causing this. The reason for this belief was based upon the fact that casual visitors to the church did not show proper reverence to the environment, so they were always the ones that tripped.

Mission San Carlos today.
Even after the Carmel Mission was restored in 1880, this phenomenon continued to occur.

Pews and altar.
Today tourists who walk into the church and do not show respect, trip, and fall. They find themselves on their knees in front of the altar. Because of this, people are warned to stay clear of Father Serra’s grave.

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