Mission (or Criolla) grapes
were made into wine for meals
and for the Roman Catholic
mass, where wine signifies
the blood of Jesus Christ.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
26801 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, California
(officially est. on All Saints' Day, November 1, 1776,
after being driven out the year before by the natives)

Named after St. Giovanni da Capestrano (1386-1456), it was the
7th of 21 missions founded by the Franciscan order in California.

"When the swallows come back to Capistrano,
that's the day I pray that you'll come back to me."

—from Leon René's 1940 hit song

More Info: The San Juan Capistrano Historical Society
Photos copyright © October 2009 Kat Avila / Canon SD780 IS
Junipero Serra
Statue of Father Junípero
and an indigenous
boy erected in 1914 when
political and religious
colonialism was unquestioned.
Fountain of the Four
(Apostle Matthew,
Mark, Luke, Apostle John)
in the central courtyard
(built circa 1920)
gardens in the front
central courtyard
central courtyard
A waterlily
symbolizes a pure heart.
north wall
north corridor
soldiers barracks
soldiers barracks
(built in 1791)
soldiers barracks
soldiers barracks close-up
cow hide
Cow hide at one time was
the currency of the West.
south corridor
south corridor
padre's bedroom
padre's bedroom

Serra's Church (aka Serra Chapel) (built in 1782)
The oldest structure in continuous use in California, and the only surviving church where Father Junípero Serra celebrated mass.
rows of votive candles
doorways to the
courtyard and chapel
above the entrance
to the church
holy water fount
Holy water stoup at the entrance
where Catholics dip their fingers,
followed by the sign of the cross,
an act recalling one's baptism.
looking toward the altar
LaVirgen de Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe
(Sp. Nuestra Señora
de Guadalupe
Three padres are buried
under the sanctuary
(source: MSJC, Wikipedia).
Golden Altar, a 400-
year-old baroque retablo
from Barcelona, Spain.
St. Peregrine
St. Peregrine,
patron saint of sufferers,
in a side chapel
rear of church
looking toward the back
pulpit on the left side
of the church
altar altar altar
ceiling altar altar altar
Sacred Garden and Bell Wall (aka campanario, Spanish for "belfry")
The bells are rung for St. Joseph's Day/Swallows Day (March 19) and important Catholic Church, community, and national events. The two largest bells are recasts of the bells that hung in the bell tower of the Great Stone Church; the original bells are displayed where the bell tower would have stood.
gardens bells
The plaque below the bells commemorates
the 1969 presidential visit of Richard and Pat
Nixon and their ringing of the smallest bell,
the bell of San Rafael, which was cast in 1804.
Bell Wall
Sacred Garden
(built 1920)
end bell Paul Arbiso plaque
Paul Arbiso (1895-1994),
official bell ringer
for 42 years.
Great Stone Church (1797-1812)
On the morning of December 8, 1812, the Wrightwood Earthquake toppled the church, which was already weakened by the 1800 San Diego Earthquake and whose construction was not wholly supervised by a master mason (source: "The Great Stone Church," Forty-two indigenous worshippers died (source: mission handout). The candle-bearing ghost of a young penitent named Magdalena haunts the ruins (primary source: Haunted Southland, p. 16).
stone church
overall view
stone church
overall view
stone church model
model of original church
with bell tower
stone church
left corner of church
stone church
front and center

Educational Exhibits
olive mill
2-wheel olive millstone
(built circa 1880, renov. 1930)
The pulp was then pressed into olive
oil at another spot. Olive oil had many
uses, e.g., for cooking and lamps.
kiicha and pumpkin
pumpkin and kìicha
(native family dwelling
made of willow saplings
and tule reeds)
drying rack
drying rack
with gourds
tools of the blacksmith
"Mission San Juan Capistrano was the
only California mission to smelt iron.
… The blacksmith forged the iron
into tools, implements, hinges and
other articles." (text from sign)
prickly pear cactus
coastal prickly pear
Mission Cemetery (1781-1850; exception made for Father John O'Sullivan)
About 2,000-3,000 people are buried here, most of them have no grave markers and were of the Acjachemen Nation (aka Juaneños) (source: mission handout).
"In this holy place lie the bodies
of those who built the mission.
May their souls rest in peace.
Erected 1924." (text from plaque)

A Celtic cross caps
the weathered memorial.
John O'Sullivan
"The Right Rev. Msgr. St. John O'Sullivan
Born March 19, 1874
Ordained to the priesthood June 12, 1904
Died July 22, 1933
Pastor of Old Mission 1910-1933"
(O'Sullivan, who promoted the mission's
restoration, is buried in front of the memorial.)
Spanish soldier & land grantee
José Antonio Yorba's
cenotaph can be seen on
the left side of the photo.

The exact location of his
remains in the cemetery
is unmarked.
Jose Antonio Yorba
"José Antonio Yorba I
Born July 20, 1743
San Saturnino, Spain
Died January 16, 1825
Rancho Santa Ana, California
Member of Portolá Expedition 1769"
O'Neill Museum (est. 1979) and the Montanez Adobe on Los Rios Street
Los Ríos Street National Register Historic District (since 1983): "This area was inhabited by the Acjachemen Nation Native Americans [Spanish term Juaneños] before nearby Mission San Juan Capistrano was established. Los Ríos Street is the oldest continually occupied residential neighborhood in California. There are 31 original sites existing from the district's historic period of 1794 to 1946." (text from plaque)
street sign
Los Ríos (The Rivers)
street sign
Los Rios Street
Los Ríos Street
O'Neill Museum
O'Neill Museum
(formerly the Garcia/Pryor
residence, built circa 1880)
at 31831 Los Ríos St.
O'Neill Museum porch
The ghost of former
tenant Albert Pryor (from 1903
to 1955) haunts the porch
(source: museum handout).
Montanez Adobe
Montanez Adobe
(built 1794)
at 31745 Los Ríos St.