Thursday, May 23, 2013

THE BURNING OF HINAPSAN CHURCH


Hinapsan (usually spelled Jinapsan) is in the north of Guam, east of Litekyan (Ritidian) Point.

Around 1680, the Spaniards gathered the Chamorros in the area and consolidated them in a large village at Hinapsan. 

The Chamorros themselves worked to build a church there, in honor of San Miguel (Saint Michael the Archangel).  A solemn dedication was planned for February of 1681.  But at midnight on February 3rd, someone set fire to it.  As the wood was dry (February is usually a dry and breezy month), the fire spread quickly and all was lost within the hour; the church, the images, the vestments.  Apparently the priest was not living there yet as he and a brother companion had to be called, and too late, for the fire had already engulfed the structure.

The Chamorros were afraid that the priest would abandon them, and they feared reprisals from the military, but the priest promised he would not leave them and sent the Jesuit brother instead to report the fire to the authorities in Hagåtña.

In the meantime, the Chamorros must have kept thinking what might happen, and fear overtook them.  They decided to all get in boats and sail for Luta (Rota), just forty miles away.


Luta (Rota) seen from northern Guam

When the Spaniards from Hagåtña finally reached Hinapsan, all they found there was the Jesuit priest and his few companions.  They all packed their bags and returned to Hagåtña with the soldiers to wait and see if the Hinapsan people would return from Luta.

Dedications for other new churches in the other parts of Guam went on as scheduled, to show the others that this one incident would not deter them.  The villagers of Pågo, for example, stationed guards at their own church to make sure no one burnt it down.

The Hinapsan people, despite promises of the Spaniards to treat them well, refused to return.  The Spaniards had tried to convince them that they were not considered guilty, since the people did not harm the priest when he arrived in Hinapsan.  But they wouldn't budge.

So in April, the Spaniards sailed to Luta and were met with resistance by both Luta and Hinapsan Chamorros.  In the fight, the Chamorros fled inland, and the Spaniards burnt down the village erected there for the Hinapsan Chamorros. 

But the Hinapsan Chamorros remained in Luta for a time.  A new church in Hinapsan was built, but, in time, the northernmost mission was closed and the Chamorros there moved to southern locations.  By the 1700s, all the mission activity - churches and schools - would be in the central and southern parts of Guam. The north became purely ranching country.


Latte Stones in Hinapsan
Reminders of the ancient Chamorro villages that dotted Guam's coastline

1 comment:

  1. My Notes on Chamorro History
    by William Hernandez
    For some reason, in the 30 years I have been doing research during this period of Chamorro History(1668 - 1710) including the archaeological evidence - I found about the great civilization of the Chamorros - they did not want to give up their national culture and identity and would rather die than change their religion(beliefs as they are prejudicially refered to)or surrender to the Jesuits and their mercenaries. Its easy to conclude that the Jesuit Mission was a total failure by 1710. They themselves provided the information they wished to provide - to arrive at this conclusion - from the San Vitores count of over 150,000 Chamorros in the archipelago to less than 4 thousand by 1710. And to blame disease introduced is to find fault that Chamorros are weak in health but yet - the Jesuit letters and notes translated in 15 (200 page) volumes by Levesque shows the carnage and coldness of the accounts - again - it was the Jesuits that provided the evidence that their method of missionization is not what Christ would have used and will later be a humble inspiration to apologize - for what Catholic's use of violence against indigenous peoples is wrong - and all should recognized it as such as noted by Blessed Pope John Paul II in his homily "Day of Pardon"(Jubilee Mass at St.Peter's Basilica, Rome 2000).

    Now, I read that the Chamorro Spanish War did not exist. Continuing to deny the truth is to lie to oneself and to insult the National History of the Chamorro People.

    ReplyDelete