"The Jewel of California Missions" otherwise know as Mission San Juan Capistrano was a special visit on our recent California trip. To consider this place begun in 1776 by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order still standing today in spite of earthquakes, floods and other events is nothing short of amazing.
Yes, this is also the place where every year, reputedly, on March 19 (Saint Joseph's Day) the cliff swallows return to the mission - and inspired Leon Rene to write the popular song "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano" in 1940.
We weren't there so I can't tell you for sure that this really happens!
This mission also has another interesting element in history: It was the location of the first vineyard and winery in California.Being one who is interested in literature, it was noted that the first Zorro novella "The Curse of Capistrano" was penned in 1919 at set as the story locale. By 1782, The Serra Chapel on the left was completed. Many famous padres spoke here. The chapel is still in use today with daily masses. One if the most haunting sites in the mission is the shell of The Great Stone Church. No doubt this was a beautiful place to worship! Work started on this church in 1797, and was completed in 1806. Only six years later in 1812, it was leveled by an earthquake and 40 lives were lost. Somehow this area still feels like holy, sacred ground. Ten acres of buildings, gardens, fountains, structures and peace (really!) was a satisfying retreat for the both of us. Just a couple of parting pictures:
Pictures don't do this mission justice. It was a lovely destination to find. And savor.
Coming: Desert Dessert!