The husband and I have gotten in the habit of traveling in April. Usually on or around our anniversary. Last April we went to San Diego for the first time. We also happened to be there on Easter, which we were unaware of when we booked. Easter was late last year. So, we wanted to do something special. We could have found a church to attend, but we elected not to. Instead, we took a day trip to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano.
The weather had been a bit hit-or-miss. Not rainy, not real sunny, but warm enough to satisfy the Washingtonians. However, the morning of Easter dawned (appropriately) sunny and bright. We packed a picnic and headed North.
Now, I am a flower fiend. Love them. We can go on a ten mile hike and it will last all day if there are flowers in bloom. Lucky for me I married a man who likes to mosey. He’s content (for the most part) to let me crawl on the ground taking pictures while he admires the scenery. As our time to leave for San Diego approached I stalked the website for The Flower Fields in Carlsbad. The ranunculus were in bloom and I repeatedly checked to make sure there would still be bloom when we were in the area. That was our first stop on that fine Easter day. Sunny weather, a field full of beautiful ranunculus…I was a happy girl.
We wound our way on up the coast, enjoying the views, and arrived in San Juan Capistrano around noon. The area right around the mission is busy. Traffic, shops, churches, a school. And, yet, when you enter the mission it’s like a hush falls. You are in an oasis. A beautiful oasis.
The Mission was founded in 1776 by Father Serra. It was the seventh of twenty-one missions founded in California. It’s purpose was to expand the territorial boundaries of Spain and to spread Christianity to the Native population in California.
By 1806 the Mission had a population of over a thousand people and had completed The Great Stone Church. It was completely self-sufficient and included storage rooms for provisions, shops for making different materials, living and dining facilities, etc. The entire Mission was built of adobe bricks covered with a “stucco” of adobe mud. The roof is fired clay tiles. It is…impressive. After 1812 the Mission began to decline. Many factors contributed to this, including the earthquake in December of 1812 that caused the Great Stone Church to collapse. Mass had just started and 40 people had died. The church was never rebuilt.
In August 1834 the Mexican government, in its efforts to end the mission system entirely, confiscated the property of the Mission. Land holdings were divided and sold and, in 1845, Governor Pio Pico sold the Mission itself. For the next 20 years it was private ranch property.
California was declared a state in 1850 and many California dioceses and parishioners petitioned the government to have Mission buildings and lands returned to the church. Most of the buildings had not been maintained and were falling apart. In 1865 President Lincoln signed the documents that returned the Mission buildings to the Catholic Church. Preservation efforts began in 1895 and continues to this day.
I used the following websites for the historical information about the Mission:
That was our Easter. Pretty amazing.