Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MISSION SAN FERNANDO REY DE ESPANA (Mission Hills, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles County, CA)

Reposted from my 2/27/11 blog entry at www.camissonia.blogspot.com :

It was very frosty and cold this morning after the last rain storm passed through our region on Friday-Saturday. Our overnight low was 28F, with wind chill bringing it down to 22F (well below normal for this time of year). The newly emerging leaves on all of our bougainvillea have turned black from the icy temps, Hana's outside water bowl and the birdbath were blocks of ice, and there was a layer of frost covering most of the ground. No snow in La Cresta (darnit!), but quite a lot of it came down in our local mountains . Other than the brisk temperatures, it was a gorgeous and sunny day today, so we drove up to Northridge to meet Gil's parents for dim sum, since we had missed our annual Christmas lunch with them back in December due to the heavy rains. It's not that they live in Northridge or that the San Fernando Valley is the Dim Sum capital of SoCal (I think that designation, hands down, goes to the San Gabriel Valley). But his parents live in Camarillo and we live in Murrieta, so Northridge is kind of a half-way point so that we don't have to drive 140 miles one way to meet up. And, since we were in the area, we had to stop by the San Fernando Mission on our drive home to check this one off of our list of the 21 California missions we have vowed to visit sometime in our lifetime. Six down, fifteen to go. 

2/27/11 Just love it. Only in California are Palm trees and snow-capped mountains like two peas in a pod. View of the San Gabriel Mountains from I-15N in Rancho Cucamonga.

2/27/11 Another view of the San Gabriels going eastbound on the 210 Fwy. at La Tuna Canyon Rd.

2/27/11 Snow at the La Tuna Canyon Rd. exit just off the 210. Lots of cars with spectators parked on the roadside. 

Now, onto the Mission! Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana, the 17th of Alta California's 21 missions along the El Camino Real, was founded by Fray Fermin Francisco de Lasuen on September 8, 1797. One of the most interesting parts of this mission is the "Convento" aka the "long building," which took about a dozen years to build (1810-1822) and is, according to Wiki, "the largest adobe building in California and the largest original building at any of the California missions." The adobe walls of the Convento are 4-feet thick and the most recognized feature is the long portico or corridor of 21 Roman arches.

2/27/11 Roman arches of the Convento (facing San Fernando Mission Rd.)

Convento (street view from San Fernando Mission Rd.)

2/27/11 What looks to be one of the original iron grilles on the Convento.

2/27/11 Bougainvillea in full bloom next to the Convento. 

A gorgeous chandelier in the Museum. Wish I had something like that hanging in our great room.


Olive trees in the East Garden.

The museum houses a small but very nice collection of Native American basketry.

Another fab mission-style chandelier, in the Convento.

Displays in the Convento. 

La Sala. 
From the interpretive sign: "This heavy-beamed reception room is one of the largest and most elegant of any among the missions. Its large double doors mark the main entrance to the mission itself. Weary travelers received a warm and hearty welcome here and enjoyed the famous Franciscan hospitality for as long as they wished to stay. At a later date, this room served as a chapel when the original church was abandoned."

Historic library of the Bibliotheca Montereyensis-Angelorum Dioeceseos. The Mission is home to the Archival Center, a research facility that houses many of California's historical ecumenical documents dating from the Mission Period (ca. 1840). 

Some really fragile volumes in the collection.

These are just so cool. There were a series of posters on California's State Emblems on display in the Convento, all with a copyright date of 1958 by the Latin American Studio in Santa Barbara. Wonder if reprints are available. This one is of the State's 10th emblem, the Official State Fish: California Golden Trout.

The 6th State emblem: Official State Insect, the California Dogface Butterfly.

The 7th State emblem: Official State Bird, the California Quail.

The 3rd State emblem: Official State Flower, the California Poppy.

Exiting the Convento and heading towards the West Garden.

A tranquil waterfall and creek, almost hidden from view behind a bamboo thicket along the West Garden.

View of the Old Mission Church from the West Garden.

West Garden.

The Old Mission Church.
From the Mission brochure: "The fourth Mission church is an exact replica of the earlier edifice erected between 1804 and 1806....The interior furnishings were used in the earlier church...The 16th century gold-leafed reredos, a memorial to Eugenie Hannon, was installed in 1991. Pope John Paul II visited the church in September of 1987."

The original church was badly damaged in the 1971 San Fernando earthquake and had to be completely rebuilt. The reconstructed church was dedicated in 1974. 

"Our Lady of Hope" (replica of the 17th C. statue at the Basilica of Our Lady of Hope in Pontmain, France). Bob Hope Memorial Garden.

Bob Hope Memorial Garden.

A towering, majestic pine tree in the Bob Hope Memorial Garden.

Bob Hope's final resting place. We had no idea that he was buried here prior to our visit to the mission. A beautiful and fitting memorial garden for this beloved funnyman, humanitarian and patriot. 
For more on the dedication of the Bob Hope Memorial Garden on August 23, 2005, go to: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0504809.htm 

Bob Hope memorabilia in the Mission Workshops wing.

Floss Silk Trees (Ceiba speciosa). East Garden.
Monsignor Francis Weber describes these trees as follows in his book The California Missions: "The floss-silk trees at San Fernando Mission, introduced by Clarese Kroll in 1982 from the Huntington Library, are often referred to as "the single most spectacular flowering trees in the United States." Silk trees are natives of southern Brazil and Argentina and are called samohu by local Indians. They are truly breathtaking in the late summer when their bare branches are covered completely with pink flowers and green fruit."

One of the El Camino Real bells at the mission. There's a perky little Black Phoebe on the sign. These guys were out in force today, flycatching from every conceivable perch in the East Garden.

East Garden. The flower-shaped fountain was copied from an original in Cordova, Spain.

Location: 15151 San Fernando Mission Bl, Mission Hills, CA 91345

Contact: (818)361-0186

Hours: Old Mission Gift Shop: daily, 9am-5pm.
Mission Historical Museum: daily 9am-4:30pm.
Sunday Masses 9am and 10:30am; daily mass in Serra Chapel at 7:25am


The following stats are quoted from the California Missions Resource Center:

San Fernando Rey is the 17th out of 21 California Missions. 

Founded: September 8, 1797

Special Designation: "Mission of the Valley"

Named For:  St. Ferdinand, King of Spain in 13th century

Founding Father: Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuen

Indians Joining this Mission: The Mission Indian neophytes of San Fernando were referred to as Fernandino, after the mission. Though originally identified with the Tataviam and Tongva, in the 20th century mission Indian descendants of San Gabriel and San Fernando adopted the name Tongva. The Tongva were recognized as a distinct tribe by the State of California in 1994. They have sought Federal recognition for decades. 

Layout: Traditional quadrangle. A large hospice called the Convento, or Long Building, branched off the quadrangle. 

Water Source: Several springs provided abundant water and a vast irrigation system supplied the mission and its lands.

Population: By 1811 the mission population reached 1,081 and stayed over 1,000 for the next 10 years. There were still 400 former neophytes resident at San Fernando in 1843.

Agricultural Output: In its peak year, in 1819, San Fernando had 12,800 head of cattle, which were a major source of food and revenue. The mission also had a large number of sheep (an average of 5,000 in its peak years). 

Mission Church: The simple mission church is an exact replica of the 3rd church completed in 1806 and destroyed by an earthquake in 1971.

Mission Bells: A bell hangs in the belfry of the church. Another bell, weighing 100 pounds and dated to 1796, bears inscriptions for both Mission San Fernando and a Russian Orthodox Church official of the island of Kodiak, Alaska. it is believed by some that the bell originated with Nikolay Petrovich Rezanov's 1806 Russian trading expedition to Alta California. 

Mission Art: The elaborate altar, reredos and pulpit are carved from walnut and date to 1687. They were originally installed in the chapel of St. Philip Neri at Ezcaray, Spain, and reassembled in part at San Fernando by California missions curator Sir Richard Joseph Menn of the Diocese of Monterey. 

Special Attraction: The Convento or Long Building, built in 1822, served as the padre's quarters and as a guest house. A colonnade with nineteen arches borders the full length of the building, which measures 243' x 50'. 

Significant Events: On March 8, 1842, Francisco Lopez, a majordomo on one of the mission ranches, discovered gold particles clinging to the roots of wild onion bulbs in Placerita Canyon. The gold petered  out in four years, but this was the earliest gold strike in California. For years thereafter, treasure seekers dug up the mission's adobe walls and floors to find the gold they mistakenly thought the padres had hidden.

Secularized: 1834

Year Returned to Catholic Church: 1861

Current Status: Active Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. 

Responsibility: Oblates of Mary Immaculate have been responsible for the mission since 1923.

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