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Esteban Tapis





Born at Santa Coloma de Farnes, Catalonia, Spain, 25 Aug., 1754; died 3 Nov., 1825. He entered the Franciscan Order at Gerona, 27 Jan., 1778, and joined the missionary College of San Fernando, Mexico, in 1786. Reaching California in 1790, he was in succession stationed at the Indian missions of San Luis Obispo till 1793; Santa Barbara till 1806; San Carlos till 1811; Purísima Concepcion till 1813; Santa Ines in 1814; San Juan Bautista to the day of his death. He was three times elected presidente, or superior, of the California missions, holding the office from 1803-1812. During the same period he was also vicario foraneo of the Bishop of Sonora for California. Father Tapis was familiar with several Indian languages, and noted for his fondness for teaching Indian boys to read and write. He was a truly evangelical man, and was held in the highest esteem by the missionaries for his learning and piety. Numerous letters from his hand are still extant. His best and longest literary effort was his defence of the missionary fathers and their missionary system against the accusations of Captain Goyoechea of the Santa Barbara presidio. The arguments proved so crushing that the Government deemed it advisable to promote the officer to a post in Mexico. Father Tapis strenuously opposed taking the oath of allegiance to the so-called Republic of Mexico, which to him was nothing but an attempt at putting Voltairean principles into practice.

Santa Barbara Mission Archives; Mission Records of various missions, notably San Juan Bautista; ENGELHARDT, The Missions and Missionaries of California, II (San Francisco, 1912); The Franciscans in California (Harbor Springs, Mich., 1897).

Zephyrin Engelhardt.








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