Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano was a Spanish mission in Southern California, located in present-day San Juan Capistrano. It was founded on All Saints Day November 1, 1776, by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order. Named for Giovanni da Capistrano, a 15th century theologian and “warrior priest” who resided in the Abruzzo region of Italy, San Juan Capistrano has the distinction of being home to the oldest building in California still in use, a chapel built in 1782; known alternately as “Serra’s Chapel” and “Father Serra’s Church,” it is the only extant structure where it has been documented that the padre Junipero Serra celebrated mass. One of the best known of the Alta California missions (and one of the few missions to have actually been founded twice—others being Mission San Gabriel Arcángel and Mission La Purísima Concepción)—the site was originally consecrated on October 30, 1775, by Father Fermín Lasuén, but was quickly abandoned due to unrest among the indigenous population in San Diego.
The Return of the Swallows
The Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) is a migratory bird that spends its winters in Goya, Argentina but makes the 6,000-mile (10,000 km) trek north to the warmer climes of the American Southwest in springtime. According to legend the birds, who have visited the San Juan Capistrano area every Summer for centuries, first took refuge at the Mission when an irate innkeeper began destroying their mud nests (the birds also frequent the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo). The Mission’s location near two rivers made it an ideal location for the swallows to nest, as there was a constant supply of the insects on which they feed, and the young birds are well-protected inside the ruins of the old stone church.
A 1915 article in Overland Monthly magazine made note of the birds’ annual habit of nesting beneath the Mission’s eaves and archways from Spring through Fall, and made the swallows the “signature icon” of the Mission; Father O’Sullivan utilized interest in the phenomenon to generate public interest in restoration efforts during his two decades in residence. One of bell ringer Acú’s most colorful tales was that the swallows (or las golondrinas, as he called them) flew over the Atlantic Ocean to Jerusalem each winter, carrying small twigs on which they could rest atop the water along the way.
Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano
Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano is Catholic a minor basilica church in the city of San Juan Capistrano, California, in the Diocese of Orange. Built in 1984, just north and west of historical Mission San Juan Capistrano, the church’s design is patterned after the Mission’s old stone church which was begun in 1797 and collapsed in 1812, but is twenty percent larger. The church was designed by architect John Bartlett and built by Joseph Byron Jr of Alex Sutherland Construction. The interior was designed by historian Norman Neuerberg, who painted much of decorative and sacred art which adorns the walls.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II conferred the title of minor basilica on the church, a status granted to a church of particular religious, historic, and cultural significance.
The “Grand Retablo” with the Trinity at top center, Bl. Junipero Serra top left , Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha top right, St. Francis bottom right, St. Joseph bottom left and Our Lady of Guadalupe bottom center. A prominent feature of the basilica is the Grand Retablo, a 42-foot-high (13 m), 30-foot-wide (9.1 m), 16-ton altar-backing carved in cedar and covered in gold leaf which is stylistically reminiscent of 17th- and 18th-century Spanish colonial and Mexican colonial retablos. The retablo’s focal point is the Trinity, composed of the crucifix, God the Father depicted as an ancient partriarch, and the Holy Spirit depicted as a dove. Beneath the Trinity is Our Lady of Guadalupe. Four saints included on the retablo are Saint Francis of Assisi – patron of the mission’s founding order, Saint Joseph, Blessed Junipero Serra – the mission’s founder, and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha – significant for the area’s Indian population. The Retablo was designed and created by 84 artisans in numerous parts at the Talleres de Arte Granda in Madrid, Spain.
El Adobe de Capistrano
El Adobe de Capistrano, or simply known as El Adobe, is a restaurant located in San Juan Capistrano, California. It has been operated since 1948 and is in a building composed of two historic adobes near Mission San Juan Capistrano. It is also famous for being frequented by and being a favorite of U.S. President Richard Nixon who lived in nearby San Clemente.
The adobe which comprises the northern portion of the restaurant was built as the home of Miguel Yorba in 1797. The southern portion, from 1812, was the Juzgado (court and jails). The Juzgado’s jail cell now serves as the restaurant’s wine cellar and is rumored to harbor a ghost. In addition there have been reports of a headless friar in front of the restaurant. In 1910, Georgia Mott Vander-Leck bought the two properties, combining them for use as her home and store. In 1948, Mr. Clarence Brown established the El Adobe restaurant, opening it on July 8, 1948 for the wedding and reception of the First Commandant of Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base, General Fagan.
While in office, former President Richard Nixon whose nearby San Clemente home was known as the Western White House, visited the restaurant many times. The restaurant was originally continental cuisine, but after comments by Nixon, it gained attention for its Mexican fare and changed the menu.
Los Rios Historic District
The Los Rios Historic District includes 31 structures which line both sides of Los Rios Street between Del Obispo and Mission Streets. The District comprises one of the oldest continuing neighborhoods in Orange County, and includes three adobe homes built in 1794 for Mission families.
Located within the District, the O’Neill Museum is a rustic but genteel wooden structure that was one of San Juan Capistrano’s earliest homes. The museum provides today’s visitors a charming glimpse of life one hundred years ago.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Pictures taken with a Canon T1I with 18-55 and 55-250 kit lenses
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