Friday, April 9, 2010

of Capistrano

Did anyone else do a Mission Report in fourth grade?  I realize it was probably specific to California schools, probably even to California Catholic schools, but I have good memories of my mission report.

I chose San Juan Capistrano, the "jewel of the missions" as it is nicknamed, for my mission in fourth grade.  Myself being only 10 years old, and the report being a scratch-the-surface-at-best delving into the history of the mission, I don't remember very much about Capistrano.  I didn't even know who St. John of Capistrano was...

I do remember a few things, though.  Capistrano is famous for the swallows that would return to the mission, nesting on the ruined church walls.  Traditionally, the city of Capistrano would celebrate the return of the birds on St. Joseph's day (March 19) and bid them farewell around St. John's Day (October 23).  Sadly, it seems that the swallows have not returned for the past several years.

I also remember the fountain in the courtyard.  I love the way it just drips the water out the side, trailing down the plants that over-grow the main bowl.  I remember the coi in the pond as well.  Those were a big hit with little Madelyn, the daughter of our friends who took us to the mission.

It was so much fun to walk around the mission, though we didn't stay very long.  Momma kept the diorama I made (which she helped me with, of course), and it still hangs in the nook of Daddy's house (I'll take a picture next time I'm out that way).  Because of the diorama, I remember the ruined church attached to the mission.  Before an earthquake caused the roof to collapse, it was the largest of any of the mission churches.

Capistrano also boasts the only surviving chapel where Fr. Serra (the founder of all the California Missions) said Mass.  I remember when we visited the mission (as a family, a sort of field trip together), I got a lovely book of post cards, mostly pictures of this chapel.  Beautiful.

This church has a side chapel dedicated to St. Peregrine, patron saint of those suffering from cancer.

This was the first (California) mission T has ever visited.  Not a bad starting place, huh?  It convinced him to use the mission's central open courtyard model for our hobbit hole on our farm someday :)  Which works out well because I've already designed our house like that anyway ;)

Someday, T and I want to drive all the way up El Camino Real, visiting all the missions one by one, taking a leisurely vacation along coastal California.  I have only ever visited three: Capistrano, Carmel, and San Miguel.  I'd love to go back again (and again and again...).

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