Wanderlust Wednesday: California Missions Series: #7 Mission San Juan Capistrano

Today, we feature the 7th California Mission: Mission San Juan Capistrano

 

Hello everyone! For the second mission in this series, I’m going to share my trip to Mission San Juan Capistrano, about 60 miles south of Los Angeles. Located in 26801 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, CA., this mission is the 7th mission built by the Spaniards, and 19th mission geographically from the north.

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The mission was founded in November 01, 1776. It will celebrate its 240th year in Nov 1, 2016. It was named after Italian saint, St. Giovanni da Capistrano. San Juan Capistrano is also home to the oldest building in California still being used today – Father Serra’s Church built in 1782. Serra established 9 missions and The goal of the mission was to be self-sufficient, that is why livelihood was taught. Farming was the main industry, and animals were raised as well.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is known all over the world for the legend of the return of the Cliff Swallows, told by Father O’Sullivan from the 1920s. Every year, the mission celebrates the legend on Swallows Day on March 19th.

Here is an excerpt of the story of the Cliff Swallows from Chapter 10 of Capistrano Nights: Tales of a Mission Town.

“One day several years ago,” He said (Father O’Sullvian), “I was passing the new hotel at the west side of the town plaza, and there was the proprietor out with a long pole smashing the swallows’ nest that were under the eaves. The poor birds were in a terrible panic, darting hither and thither flying and screaming about their demolished homes.

“What in the world are you doing,” I asked.

“Why,” said he, “these dirty birds are a nuisance, and I am getting rid of them.”

“But where can they go?” I continued.

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” He replied slashing away with his pole, “but they’ve no business here, destroying my property.”

“Then come on swallows,” I cried, “I’ll give you shelter. Come to the Mission, there is room enough there for all.”

“Sure enough they all took me at my word, and the very next morning they were busy building under the newly built sacristy of Father Serra’s church.

(Credit: Website)

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Entrance to the Sacred Garden
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The four Mission Bells

 

 

Bells were crucial to everyday life at the mission. They signal meal times, start of work and religious services, births, funerals, etc. Fun fact: These four bells were all named. Biggest to smallest: San Vicente, San Juan, San Antonio, San Rafael. Not everyone can ring the bells at the mission. Only a privileged and chosen few were assigned this task. On this bell wall, the two smaller ones are still the original ones used from the past. The two larger bells are replicas of the original bells. The two bells fell and cracked when it fell from the 1812 earthquake.

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These two large bells hanging low are the original of the large bells. Since its restoration after the earthquake damage, neither gave out clear tones. They currently sit at the footprint of the ruined bell tower.

img_6206Pictured is an area inside Serra’s Chapel, also known as Father Serra’s Church. This chapel is the only existing structure to date where it has been documented that Father Serra celebrated mass.

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The mission desperately needed a bigger church for everyone that lived at the mission. For ten years, they used the adobe chapel and it no longer served the purpose as there was not enough space. It took nine years to complete the Great Stone Church. But sadly, only six short years after its completion, the tragic earthquake on December 08, 1812 fell to shambles, killing 40 people that attended mass that tragic day. The church was never rebuilt, the priests made no attempt at rebuilding and the ruins from then on served as a symbol to remember the loss of their community.

 

Each mission has their own rich history, their own personality, and that makes me certain that as I go through visiting each one of them, I know that it will really be a learning and enjoyable experience. As much as I enjoy capturing the beautiful scenery of the missions, I also enjoy the reading and the research that I do, because I learn more about their rich history and all the fun facts in between. Go visit a California Mission today and tell us about it!

-Jaja (IG: @theforevertourist)

Resources: Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission San Juan Capistrano,

Wanderlust Wednesday: California Missions Series: #18 Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

Today Wanderlust Wednesday introduces the beginning of the California Mission series.

 

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Usually, when we come across the word wanderlust, some of us think of these amazing, exotic, breath-taking places that are worthy to be in a bucket list. There’s France, Japan, the Bahamas, Hawaii, what have you. One (or should I say 21) of the places that I wanderlust for is the California Missions.

The California missions are 21 outposts, or settlements, that the Spaniards had built along the West Coast, mainly to spread Christianity to the indigenous people in the region. Aside from religion, they taught the locals to grow their own food, raise animals and become more civilized.

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2012 was when I first heard of the missions. It was really intrigued. Elementary students here are required to do a diorama project and a presentation on a mission of their choice. I looked up the history and the background of these missions, and from then on, I have tried to visit one whenever I can.

I know that this is not specifically Los Angeles, but I thought that I would share my touristy trips to the missions that I go to. Let’s just call this, the California Missions series of Wanderlust Wednesday. If you also happen to be a history buff, and enjoy exploring historical places like the missions, I hope that my posts encourage you into visiting the missions as well.

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Bronze rendition of the Fourth Station of the Cross

For the first in the series, I will share with my trip to Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, located almost 90 miles south of Los Angeles. Located in 4050 Mission Ave., San Luis Rey, CA., this mission is the 18th mission built by the Spaniards, and 20th mission geographically from the north.

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First and oldest pepper tree in California, planted in 1830.

The mission was founded in June 13, 1798 by Father Fermin de Lasuen. It was named for King Louis IX of France and was nicknamed the “King of the Missions”, being the largest mission at 35 acres. The California Pepper Tree (originally Peruvian Pepper Tree, first of its kind planted in the state) was planted in the mission, and a very iconic sight to see.4

The mission is fully functional to this day, and provides services through community programs. One of their facilities include a Retreat Center with day and overnight programs. Even the historic church is still used for early Sunday mass, weddings, and funerals.

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Peyri Court: The court is an inner garden dedicated to Padre Antonio Peyri who guided the development of the Mission from founding through secularization.
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Inner sacred garden, where the public is not allowed to venture into.

If you’re a history fan a road trip fan, I think that the missions will definitely pique your interest. Since I live in the West Coast, I’m taking my time visiting them. But if you’re in town for a week, or intentionally want to make a missions road trip vacation, I think that that’s a great way to see the state of California, close to the coast at least.

Thank you for reading my first mission post of the series! Let me know what you think, and go and check out the rest of the California Missions.

-Jaja

For more information about the history of the California Missions and this particular one, click the links below:
California Missions
Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
Visit Oceanside
Mission Tour