Father Antonio Menendez

MENENDEZ, Father Antonio. Was a Dominican friar who came from Mexico with Echeandía in 1825 and was chaplain and cure at the Presidio until 1829 at an irregular salary of $15 a month. His part in the Fitch-Carrillo elopement has been related. In December, 1828, his name appears in a list of Spaniards who had taken the oath of allegiance. From August to December of this year he taught a school in San Diego, had 18 pupils enrolled, and was paid the same munificent salary. He was chaplain of the assembly which met at Santa Barbara from July to October, 1830.

His character seems to put him in the class with the coarser Mexican priests who followed the Spanish missionaries. In fact he illustrated the old saying of “the world, the flesh, and the devil,” in an unusual degree. “Men’s souls for heaven,” says Bancroft, “but women for himself he loved and wine and cards.” Pio Pico, who was then a young man engaged in trading with Lower California, played cards with him, with varying fortune. On one occasion in San Diego, after Menendez had, in a game of cards, despoiled Pico of all his stock of sugar, he added insult to injury by hurling at him a couplet which may be translated: “Christ came to ransom man of woman born; He sought his sheep, himself departed shorn.”

[from Smythe, William Ellsworth. History of San Diego, 1542-1908. San Diego: History Co., 1907. (page 171)]

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