California: Carmel Mission Church

Carmel Mission Basilica (note Moorish-style dome on left)

Entrance Door. The Star of Bethleham window is oriented so the sun streams into the sanctuary during the summer solstice.

Historic Carmel Mission Altar

Carmel Mission Pipe Organ

Original Cross of 1797 that was on Church Tower Dome

Carmel Mission Bell Tower

Carmel Mission Bell

Bougainvillea by Mission’s Thick Stone Walls

Red Hot Pokers in Garden

Mission Flower Garden

Saint Francis of Assisi Statue in Garden

Statue of St. Francis Holding Crucifix with Jesus

Statue of Mary Outside Church (damaged by earthquakes and held together with giant staples)

Abalone Shells Mark Gravesites in Mission Cemetary

Spectacular Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans) in Garden

Carmel Mission Fountain

Daytime Carmel Mission Painting

Nighttime Carmel Mission Painting

Mission Carmel is one of our favorite California missions!  Father Junipero Serra founded Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo in 1770 in Monterey.  It was moved to a better location in nearby Carmel on August 24, 1771.  The church was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1797. 

It is a National Historic Landmark, the second of 21 California missions, and is still an active Catholic parish.  It is one of only three missions made of stone (the others are San Juan Capistrano and Santa Barbara).

The mission’s buildings deteriorated over time and were also damaged by earthquakes.  It has undergone extensive renovation and restoration.  The Carmel Mission has been visited by people from around the world and is a jewel on the central California coast.  Planning is now underway for the 250th anniversary celebration in Fall 2021!  Read more at:  https://missiontour.org/wp/carmel/mission-carmel-basilica.html    

If you visit the Carmel Mission, pair it with a stunning coastal walk at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve – only a short distance away:  https://www.pointlobos.org/

California: Mission San Juan Capistrano and the Swallows

Mission San Juan Capistrano Entrance

Mission San Juan Capistrano Entrance

Flower Gardens by Great Stone Church Ruins

Flower Gardens by Great Stone Church Ruins

Statue of Father Junipero Serra and Native American Juaneno Indian Boy in Garden

Statue of Father Junipero Serra and Native American Juaneno Indian Boy in Garden

Stone Arch Ruins of Great Stone Church

Stone Arch Ruins of Great Stone Church

Two Largest Bells Preserved from Great Stone Church (San Vicente and San Juan –cast in 1796)

Two Largest Bells Preserved from Great Stone Church (San Vicente and San Juan –cast in 1796)

Sacred Garden and Fountain

Sacred Garden and Fountain

Tapestry of Sacred Garden and Fountain

Altar Covered in Gold Leaf in Serra's Chapel

Altar Covered in Gold Leaf in Serra’s Chapel

Golden Altar is Adorned with 52 Angel Faces. Building is Oldest in California in Current Use.

Golden Altar is Adorned with 52 Angel Faces. Building is Oldest in California in Current Use.

Restored Painting of St. Joseph with Baby Jesus

Restored Painting of St. Joseph with Baby Jesus

Waterlilies Blooming in Fountain

Waterlilies Blooming in Fountain

Vibrant Pink Rock Purslane Flower in Garden

Vibrant Pink Rock Purslane Flower in Garden

Koi in Courtyard Fountain

Koi in Courtyard Fountain

Cactus and Dome in Background of New Mission San Juan Capistrano

Cactus and Dome in Background of New Mission San Juan Capistrano

Altar at New Mission San Juan Capistrano

Altar at New Mission San Juan Capistrano

Murals at New Mission San Juan Capistrano

Murals at New Mission San Juan Capistrano

Song Album Cover for "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano"

Song Album Cover for “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano”

Original Sheet Music for “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano”. Written by Leon Rene in 1939.

Original Sheet Music for “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano”. Written by Leon Rene in 1939.

Cliff Swallow Pair at Mud Nest

Cliff Swallow Pair at Mud Nest

Swallow Tile Purchased in Gift Shop

Swallow Tile Purchased in Gift Shop

In spring we visited Mission San Juan Capistrano (between San Diego and Los Angeles). This historic church is known as the “Jewel of the California Missions”.   It was founded in 1776 and contains a complex of adobe buildings (including Serra’s Chapel), along with gardens, fountains, and historical displays. The famous “mission grape” was first planted at San Juan Capistrano in 1779, and wine production began in 1783. The mission’s original “Great Stone Church” chapel was destroyed by an earthquake in 1812. At the time it was the largest stone building west of the Mississippi. The stone arch ruins are preserved on site, along with the original mission bells. Preservation efforts for the mission began in 1910 by Father St. John O’Sullivan, and restoration continues to the present day.

The city is famous for the return of the swallows to the area every March from Argentina.  To celebrate there are parades, fiestas, and street fairs. The cliff swallows’ return is memorialized in a popular song written by Leon Rene in 1939 called “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano” (listen to a recording by the Ink Spots in 1940 at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUSC37bLuuU).  The story of the swallows at the mission is at:  http://sanjuancapistrano.net/swallows/.

In 1986 a new parish church was built adjacent to the mission that is similar in design and spirit to the original Great Stone Church. In the year 2000 Pope John Paul II honored the new Mission San Juan Capistrano with the title “Basilica”, and in 2003 it was designated a “National Shrine”. The church has 2-foot-thick walls that are engineered to withstand future earthquakes. The motifs on the sanctuary walls were painted over 18 months by Dr. Norman Neuerberg. For inspiration, he studied historical records of the Great Stone Church, and traveled to Father Serra’s homeland in Mallorca, Spain. More info about Mission San Juan Capistrano is at:  http://www.missionsjc.com/ . Click on any of the pictures in this post for more detailed information (including song lyrics).

California: Santa Ines Mission

Santa Ines Mission Bell Tower

Santa Ines Mission Bell Tower

Courtyard

Courtyard

Rose Arbor

Rose Arbor

Santa Ines Altar

Santa Ines Altar

Embroidered Lamb

Embroidered Lamb

Chumash Family Statue

Chumash Family Statue

Statue of Santa Ynes

Statue of Santa Ynes

St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio

St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio

The Santa Ines Mission was founded in 1804 in Solvang, California (near Santa Barbara).  It is nicknamed the “Hidden Gem of the Missions” because of its beautiful location overlooking the Santa Ynez River.  It is one of California’s most well-restored missions, and currently serves about 1,300 families.

Mission San Miguel

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel Belltower

Mission San Miguel Altar

Mission San Miguel Cemetery Entrance

Mission San Miguel Cemetery Entrance

Mission San Miguel Tile

Mission San Miguel (east of Big Sur) was founded in 1797.  It is one of California’s most authentic and beautiful missions.  The colorful murals inside the church are the original ones painted by Indian artists.  Mission bells were central to life at the mission, and were blessed upon installation.  Bells were rung in a special way, and were used to call people to worship, meals, work, and gatherings. 

La Purisima Mission State Park

La Purisima Mission Bell Tower

La Purisima Mission Compound Wall

La Purisima Mission Altar: Chapel 1

La Purisima Mission Altar: Chapel 2

La Purisima Mission Chapel 2: Close-Up of Angels and Babies

La Purisima Mission State Park is located between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Each mission in California was located one travel day apart by horse along El Camino Real (the Royal Highway).  La Purisima Mission was built in 1787, and was reconstructed after an earthquake in 1812.  It is well known for its two chapels and living history demonstrations throughout the year.

Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara Front View

Mission Santa Barbara Twin Belltowers

Mission Santa Barbara Altar

Mission Santa Barbara Painting with Monk

Mission Santa Barbara Painting with Lambs

Mission Santa Barbara Rose Garden

Mission Santa Barbara is called the “Queen of the Missions.”  It was built in 1786, and is the only California mission with twin bell towers.  The church’s beautiful stone exterior is patterned after an ancient Roman temple.  Adjoining the mission is a park with over 1,000 blooming roses.

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