March 2014 - San Juan Capistrano CA
We drove to this charming town to visit the Mission. I have no idea why I know the song about the swallows, I think my parents probably sang it. Or I heard it on the Lawrence Welk show *yikes*!
I will post several accounts of Capistrano as we took so many photos. The churches I will post separately as well as the town.
The miracle of the “Swallows” of Capistrano takes place each year at Mission San Juan Capistrano, on March 19th, St. Joseph’s Day.
As the faithful little birds wing their way back to the most famous mission in California, the village of San Juan Capistrano takes on a fiesta air and the visitors from all parts of the world, and all walks of life, gather in great numbers to witness the “miracle” of the return of the swallows.
At dawn on St. Joseph’s Day, the little birds arrive and begin rebuilding their mud nests, which are clinging to the ruins of the Great Stone Church of San Juan Capistrano. The arches of the two story, vaulted Great Stone Church were left bare and exposed, as the roof collapsed during the earthquake of 1812.
Click here for more stories about the Mission.
Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded on All Saints' Day November 1, 1776, by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order. Named for Giovanni da Capistrano, a 15th-century theologian and "warrior priest" who resided in the Abruzzo region of Italy, San Juan Capistrano has the distinction of being home to the oldest building in California still in use, a chapel built in 1782.
The Right Reverend St. John O'Sullivan (March 19, 1874 – July 22, 1933] was a Catholic priest who personally undertook the restoration of the old Mission San Juan Capistrano in California.
O'Sullivan was born in Louisville, Kentucky. From his given name and place of birth, it can be presumed that he was partially descended from the English Catholic settlers of Maryland who later helped to settle Western Kentucky. He then attended the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. While there he determined to become a priest, and was accepted by his home Diocese of Louisville. He enrolled in Saint Bernard's Seminary in Rochester, New York, to do his theological studies, graduating in 1904, when he was ordained by the Bishop of Louisville, William George McCloskey.
Within months of his ordination, O'Sullivan was diagnosed as suffering from tuberculosis, and advised that his prognosis was poor. He decided to seek a drier climate in order to cope better with the disease and, with his bishop's permission, moved to the American Southwest. He helped in various parishes in Texas and Arizona. In this way, he came to know the Rev. Alfred Quetu, the Catholic pastor of Prescott, Arizona, The pastor suggested that O'Sullivan might find the abandoned Mission San Juan Capistrano in California might provide him an place for him to exercise his ministry in a manner compatible with his health. O'Sullivan traveled to the Mission, where he fell in love with the site.
The Criolla or "Mission grape," was first planted at San Juan Capistrano in 1779; in 1783, the first wine produced in Alta California emerged from the Mission's winery.
The Great Stone Church, said to be the largest and most ornate in any of the missions, now has a more humble destiny -- that of housing the birds that St. Francis loved so well.
Bells were vitally important to daily life at any mission. The bells were rung at mealtimes, to call the Mission residents to work and to religious services, during births and funerals, to signal the approach of a ship or returning missionary, and at other times; novices were instructed in the intricate rituals associated with the ringing the mission bells. The original bells were hung from a large nearby tree for some fifteen years, until the chapel bell tower was completed in 1791. What ultimately became of the original bells is not known. New bells were cast in Chile for inclusion in the belfry of "The Great Stone Church." All four of Mission San Juan Capistrano's bells are named and all bear inscriptions as follows (from the largest to the smallest; inscriptions are translated from Latin):
"Praised by Jesus, San Vicente. In honor of the Reverend Fathers, Ministers (of the Mission) Fray Vicente Fustér, and Fray Juan Santiago, 1796."
"Hail Mary most pure. Ruelas made me, and I am called San Juan, 1796."
"Hail Mary most pure, San Antonio, 1804."
"Hail Mary most pure, San Rafael, 1804."
In the aftermath of the 1812 earthquake, the two largest bells cracked and split open. Due to this damage neither produced clear tones. Regardless, they were hung in the campanario that went up the following year. During the Mission's heyday, a lone bell also hung at the west end of the front corridor, next to an entrance gate which has long since eroded away. One of Father O' Sullivan's companions during his tenure at San Juan Capistrano was José de Gracia Cruz, better known as Acú, who related many stories and legends of the Mission. A descendent of the Juaneño Indians, he served as the Mission's bell ringer until his death in 1924.