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José Bernardo Sánchez

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Born at Robledillo, Old Castile, Spain, 7 September, 1778; d. at San Gabriel, California, 15 January, 1833. He became a Franciscan on 9 October, 1794, and joined the missionary college of San Fernando, Mexico, in 1803, going to California the following year. He was stationed at Mission San Diego (1804-20); Mission Purisima 1820-1); and at San Gabriel. In 1806, as chaplain, Fr. Sánchez accompanied a military expedition against the savages. In 1821 with Fr. Prefect Mariano Payeras he went with an exploring expedition into the interior to search for new mission sites. From 1827 to 1831 he reluctantly held the position of presidente of the missions and of vicar forane to the bishop. He was a very pious and energetic missionary, but dreaded the office of superior. His incessant appeals for relief were at last granted, but he survived only two years. During his term he vigorously opposed Governor Echeandia's secularization scheme. In a long series of critical notes he showed that the plan would result in the destruction of the missions and the ruin of the neophytes. "As far as it concerns me personally", he wrote, "would that it might be to-morrow, so that I might retire between the four walls of a cell to weep over the time I wasted in behalf of these unfortunates." There is no doubt that the sight of the inevitable ruin hastened his death. His remains were buried at the foot of the altar of San Gabriel Mission.

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