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    Mision Neustra Senora de LoretoMission Loreto Mexico
    the mission at Loreto, Mexico was started in 1697 at the Monqui settlement of Concho that is today, Loreto, and began by the Jesuit missionary, Juan Mario de Salvatierra and is believed to be the mother and head of all the Spanish missions that were to be constructed in the upper and lower regions of what would become the state of California. In 1535, Hernan Cortes tried to start a colony in the Bay of Santa Cruz, which is today, La Paz, the next century and a half would be marked with many failed attempts at starting colonies in Baja. The most successful would be the 1683-1685 outpost at San Bruno, some 15 miles north of Loreto, among the Cochimi Indians; but its eventual failure would lead to the successful settlement at Loreto, 12 years later. In 1697, Salvatierra would disembark from the galley, Santa Elvira, that sat anchored in the Bay of San Dionisio, and during their first days there, they would build a modest structure that would serve them as a chapel, in the front of they put a wooden cross. A week after their arrival, they would carry the image of the Virgin of Our Lady of Loreto in a solemn procession, that became a ritual of faith that would claim the region for Spain, and begin the mission. It would become the base so that further Jesuit missions could be build, first in south central Baja and then to the remotest regions of the peninsula. In 1829, it would be abandoned, since the native Indian neophyte people had become extinct.

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    Museo de las Misions JesuiticasMuseum of Jesuit Missions Loreto, Mexico
    The Museum of Jesuit Missions in Loreto, Mexico opened in 1973, and is situated in a 17th century historical monument, where the first police station would be located, then a real box, and finally a home for the region's first governor. Their marvelous exhibits showcase the prehistoric peoples that inhabited the region, the discovery and conquest of the Baja peninsula by the Spanish and the development of the typical dress of the southern California ranch. There is a wonderful collection of religious art in the form of sculptures and paintings, tools, farm tools and weapons from the 17th and 18th century, as well as a collection of outstanding folk art.  The museum is located right next door to the Loreto mission that would be the first such mission in the new world.

April 7, 2011