Nowadays, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the peninsula of Baja California in Mexico are its old Spanish missions. A day does not seem to pass by in Baja wherein not at least one tourist or vacationer stands in front of a Baja mission to have his or her picture taken. You can also find plenty of guided tours that include old Spanish missions as part of their cultural and historic Baja tours. However, these Baja California missions were more than just tourist attractions and cultural landmarks during the time they were built and used. Baja California missions have played a very important role in shaping the history, culture and religion of Baja California and the entire country of Mexico.
Since the moment that the peninsula of Baja California as well as the rest of Mexico became a colony of Spain centuries ago, Spanish missions have been a major instruments in spreading Christianity all throughout the peninsula. Missions are not synonymous with churches although in appearance, the two might have several similarities. A mission is sort of like a branch or outlet of the Catholic church. In order to spread Christianity all throughout Mexico, several missions have been built all over the country, including the peninsula of Baja California. It is here in these Spanish missions that Christian missionaries worked trying to convert the natives of the peninsula into Christians.
Aside from the propagation of Christianity among the small villages and settlements on Baja California, it is also known that Spanish missions have been instrumental in the process of colonizing the peninsula. During those times, religion and government seemed to overlap and work side-by-side when it came to colonizing Mexico and its native inhabitants.
It can be said that old Spanish missions in Baja California have been very successful when it came to fulfilling their mission of converting the natives of Baja into Christians. Nowadays, Christianity is the most widespread religion in Baja California as it is in the rest of the country. But the stress and strain that comes with the passage of years has lead to the dilapidation, and sometimes even the complete destruction, of several missions in Baja California. The towering magnificence of many Baja missions have crumbled into neglect and indifference, and the tide of industrialism and technology rendered them into the sidelines. For a while, it seemed as if the old Spanish missions in Baja California, Mexico would continue to crumble into fine dust and be blown away by the wind, erased from the face of the planet just as the Spanish were driven away from Mexico and Mexicans attained their independence.
But something that is so deeply ingrained in the consciousness of people such as faith and religion could not so easily be forgotten. Even when Mexico became an independent country of its own, Catholicism continued to reign over the people. Baja California missions, because of the culture and history that they embody, have been repaired and reconstructed. With their former glory restored to them, Baja California missions continue to stand erect almost every major town in Baja California where they stand as reminders of the peninsula’s history, culture and faith.