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March 29, 1861: Santa Barbara

March 29, 2011

mission santa barbara

Mission Santa Barbara; by randomtruth, on Flickr

Camp 19

I promised to tell something about the festivities of Holy Week in Santa Barbara. The whole week was a week of festival, but I [am] in town only the last three days. [Today] I was in camp most of the day, but there was the ceremony of “lying in the sepulcher,” “washing of feet,” etc. The town seemed like a true sabbath day. Among the true Catholics, men are not allowed to ride on horseback—formerly policemen prevented any from so riding on Good Friday—and but few horsemen are seen now.

I went into town in the afternoon. In the church the altar was trimmed off with a profusion of flowers around the sepulcher, tapers were burning, the windows were partially darkened, and a few of the devout were praying to their favorite saints. We rode to the Mission church—its windows were darkened by thick curtains and the many candles at the altar did not light up the obscurity. Many Indians were about. Within, a number of Indian women were kneeling before a shrine; one would lead off with the prayers and all join in the responses. Their pensive voices, the darkened vast interior, the pictures and images obscurely seen in the dim light, the tapers of the altar, the echoes of their voices, the only sounds heard breaking the stillness, produced an effect I can easily conceive most touching to the imagination of the worshipers.

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