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September 29, 2008

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano bellsDuring the recent visit of a friend from New Zealand, I took him to see the Mission San Juan Capistrano. The mission was founded in 1776 by Franciscan priests as the 7th of 21 missions spread throughout Mexico's Alta California (modern-day Southern California) and connected by the Camino Real, Spanish for the Royal Road or the King's Highway.

The ruins of "The Great Stone Church" (which collapsed in an earthquake in 1812) are one of the main highlights of the mission. In addition, the Fr. Serra Church, named for Junipero Serra, is the oldest standing structure in California that is still in use today.

The Mission is celebrated in Leon Rene's song "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano" which recounts the annual spring return of the swallows to Southern California, an event traditionally observed at the Mission San Juan Capistrano every March 19 (Saint Joseph's Day).

In 1984, a modern church called the Mission Basilica was constructed just north and west of the Mission compound, patterned after the old stone church, but twenty percent larger.

Slideshow photos of the Mission San Juan Capistrano

Map and directions to Mission San Juan Capistrano

Wikipedia: San Juan Capistrano Mission

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