Friday, February 12, 2016

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Follow the Swallows!

Growing up in California, 4th grade missions field trip was long looked forward to.

In my school, Henderson Elementary in Alameden, this trip was a highlight as we loaded yellow/orange school busses, toting our lunch boxes and everything else that 4th graders carry, to go tour mission San Jose.

We were to learn all about the missions along with California history, culminating in the BIG PROJECT of the year. 

Each student had to make his or her own rendition of the mission and give a presentation in class on the things they learned.

Oh, I worked so hard on my project!  I built mission San Jose out of sugar cubes…carried it the 1 1/2 blocks to school, and waited anxiously to give my presentation in front of my class of 22 students and my teacher. 

From this point on, history has been a fascination for me.  And I love traveling and finding out the history in the area.  I will often turn down tours of quilt shops for a historical site instead.  We are who we are where we are because of those who came before us.

Love this old wagon with the flowers!

One name we heard through school again and again and again was Father Junipero Serra.  I remember driving past his statue standing over the freeway every time we’d drive from San Jose up to San Francisco.  We knew we were almost there when we reached the statue facing west toward the sea.

The story of Mission San Juan Capistrano begins in 1775, when it was first founded by Father Lasuen, on October 30th. But just a few weeks after the party of padres and soldiers arrived, they received word of the revolt occurring in San Diego. The founding padres, and soldiers decided to leave San Juan Capistrano, and go back to San Diego to help there. Once things had settled in San Diego, Father Serra personally led a party to re-found Mission San Juan Capistrano on All Saint’s Day, November 1, 1776.

The dates are interesting to me –because this was also while the revolutionary war was going on over on the EAST coast.  It didn’t have much effect on what was going on the west coast.  These things were going on simultaniously in the same period of time.

San Juan Capistrano was established to expand the territorial boundaries of Spain, and to spread Christianity to the Native peoples of California. Unlike the British colonies on the East Coast of North America, who brought people from their homeland to form colonies, the Spanish believed they could transform the Native peoples into good Spanish citizens.

This was the perfect day to visit!

The old church remains

In 1812 the Great Stone Church at San Juan Capistrano was destroyed and forty American Indians were killed as an earthquake happened during the first service.  The ruins are still part of the mission, and just looking at them and imagining this earthquake going on is terrifying.

Old Stone Church.

Fr Serra Chapel

The key building of the Mission is Serra Chapel, which was constructed by JuaneƱo Native Americans. Father Serra celebrated Mass in the Chapel in 1783. By 1811, more than 1,200 people lived and worked at the Mission as a thriving community of tradesmen, farmers and clergy.  It’s a small chapel compared to the ruins of the Old Stone Church, but it is lovely and quiet and not to be missed!

By far, the greatest legend that comes to mind when one mentions San Juan Capistrano is that of the swallows.

Swallow nests under the eaves.

The miracle of the “Swallows” of Capistrano takes place each year at Mission San Juan Capistrano, on March 19th.  I was here a month too early!

The Cliff Swallows begin to arrive in March from their winter home in Argentina. Between March and October they can be seen building nests in the eaves. Due to urbanization, they seek out areas near water and food sources such as a concrete under pass or bridge near creeks. They start their migration back to Argentina in October.

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 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.  Source

I didn’t see any swallows, but I did see nests just waiting for their return to San Juan Capistrano.  This was such a beautiful place, and I did what I could to capture this day in photos.

Click the image below if you are unable to view the photos on your mobile device.  You’ll be taken to the photo album for viewing.

Mission San Juan Capistrano, CA 2016


Oh yes, a food table! LOL!

Yesterday’s presentation with the El Camino Quilters in Vista, California was great fun!


I even had help at my book signing table, thanks to my friends Jill, and Julie Herman Kaplan of Jaybird Quilts, and her cute mama Sandy Herman!


Wow! What a crowd!


Oh, so much fun!

Today we are up for a Scrappy Mountain Majesties workshop with the guild, being held at Quilt in a Day, home of Eleanor Burns.

Let the great times continue!


Quiltville Quote of the Day

Vintage album block quilt found in North Carolina.

If you can't solve it, it isn't a problem - it's reality. And sometimes reality is the hardest thing to understand and the thing that takes the longest to realize.

Put your focus on where you are going to go from here. Take a baby step in the right direction today!

Have a great Friday, everyone!

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  1. Next trip there you will think of the swallows and plan for March. Thanks for sharing the pictures. I love going along with you to places I may never get to in my lifetime. Have a great week-end! Love & Hugs!

  2. Funny thing about history. 250+ years later and Serra does not come off as well as years ago. Perspective has a way of shedding new light on old ideas. The first Hispanic saint is not without his naysayers. To be expected one supposes with the spotlight on his recent canonization.

    Beautiful mission nonetheless. BTW the traditional day for the swallows return is March 19, the feast day of St. Joseph.

  3. You captured the essence of Mission SJC beautifully! I never realized that the American Revolution was taking place at the same time! So glad we had such wonderful So. Cal weather for you to enjoy!

  4. Aren't the CA missions beautiful --- these wonderful houses of worship were built so long ago... and have that almost eternal look.

    You could never say you aren't well fed! :) How can you keep off the pounds? Looking good Bonnie K.

    JulieinTN :)

  5. Your quote of the day is perfect for me. I spent most of my work life mentally struggling over peoples inability to follow simple directs and unwillingness to follow the rules. Retirement and maturity have freed me. Your little quote reminded me. Wish I had learned it earlier, would have saved me lots of anguish.

  6. I lived in San Diego as a 4th grader. I, like you have been in love with the California missions ever since my first visit to California's first mission. Thanks for the memories and the tour of mission San Juan Capistrano. On my bucket list......visit them all. Haven't made it yet but have seen quite a few.

  7. We lived in SoCal back in the 60's. Was the best of times. When my folks came to visit, San Juan Capistrano was one of the first places we showed them. Wonderful memories. I see the Bougainvillea is blooming as I remember that it was when we were there. Beautiful, peaceful place!

  8. Beautiful place and fascinating history - I feel I was there with you.
    Did you take a photo of your sugar cube model?
    Liz B in England.

  9. Chrysanthemum7:53 AM EST

    We were in San Jose this summer.. Great way to remember this place... Since we are in the deep freeze of winter here in Ontario. Enjoy the daily blog...

  10. Beautiful Pictures Bonnie! Reminds me of all times vising the missions up and down the coast while stationed in California! Surprising how a lot of the military posts follow the same architecture. Have Fun!

  11. I'm still laughing. I do a lot of speed reading and when I first saw your blog post title on "Feedly", I thought it said ... Follow the Sailors. (I mean - Really, Bonnie, what are you doing?) What a hoot when a realized it was 'Swallows'. Crazy I missed that cuz I'm definitely at that age where I know the song which memorialized San Juan Capistrano and Swallows!!! I do wonder if 'following the sailors' might have been a bit more exciting.


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