Second Mission Period 1587 - 1616

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San Sebastian appears to have been one of the earliest of the Timucua missions and apparently one of the first to disappear. This settlernent, two musket-shots of St. Augustine, was first evangelized in b a friar brought over by Fray Reynoso and its first converts attended Mass at St. Augustine, indicating that it was not then a mission. It not appear on Geiger's list of places having convents in 1587 or any of his other lists of the Florida missions down to 1616, but Geiger observed nonetheless that the mission at San Sebastian appears to have been established in 1587 by one of the friars who arrived that year. Yet Lanning, seemingly talking about developments at the beginning of the seventeenth century, observed that among the churches those at Nombre de Dios, San Pedro, and San Sebastian were the central doctrinas. Speaking clearly of the year 1602 when there were only six friars engaged in mission work, Lanning struck that tone again, noting that Father Pedro Ruiz administered San Sebastian and Tocoy, and that There appear to have been central churches in Nombre de Dios, in San Pedro, in San Sebastian (substation in Tocoy) and in San Juan. Strangely, for a mission described as being of such importance, neither San Sebastian nor its chief were mentioned as having been visited or confirmed by Bishop Altamirano in 1606 just two years later, although the bishop stopped at Tocoy, where he baptized the chief of that village and ninety people. It is known that San Sebastian suffered severe damage and heavy loss of life from the flooding that accompanied a storm in 1601. It is tempting to assume that this led to abandonment of the site and that the survivors were absorbed by another village. However, Lanning's placement of Fr. Ruiz there in 1602 seems to negate that as does testimony given in 1602 that Lanning cited that "in Nombre de Dios Chiquito, San Juan, San Sebastian, and other places, the churches were 'very adorned' with bells and ornaments."

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"Summary Guide to Spanish Florida Missions and Vistas with Churches in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries"

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© Copyright. John P. Walsh. April 22, 2002