Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 194 pages of information about The Old Franciscan Missions Of California.

The entrance at San Juan Bautista seems more like that of a prison than a church.  The Rev Valentin Closa, of the Company of Jesus, who for many years has had charge here, found that some visitors were so irresponsible that thefts were of almost daily occurrence.  So he had a wooden barrier placed across the church from wall to wall, and floor to ceiling, through which a gate affords entrance, and this gate is kept padlocked with as constant watchfulness as is that of a prison.  Passing this barrier, the two objects that immediately catch one’s eye are the semicircular arch dividing the church from the altar and the old wooden pulpit on the left.

Of the modern bell-tower it can only be said that it is a pity necessity seemed to compel the erection of such an abortion.  The old padres seldom, if ever, failed in their architectural taste.  However one may criticise their lesser work, such as the decorations, he is compelled to admire their large work; they were right, powerful, and dignified in their straightforward simplicity.  And it is pathetic that in later days, when workmen and money were scarce, the modern priests did not see some way of overcoming obstacles that would have been more harmonious with the old plans than is evidenced by this tower and many other similar incongruities, such as the steel bell-tower at San Miguel.

[Illustration:  DOORWAY, MISSION SAN JUAN BAUTISTA.]

[Illustration:  STAIRWAY LEADING TO PULPIT, MISSION SAN JUAN BAUTISTA.]

[Illustration:  MISSION SAN MIGUEL ARCANGEL, FROM THE SOUTH.]

[Illustration:  MISSION SAN MIGUEL ARCANGEL AND CORRIDORS.]

At San Juan Bautista the old reredos remains, though the altar is new.  The six figures of the saints are the original ones placed there when it was first erected.  In the center, at the top, is Our Lady of Guadalupe; to the left, San Antonio de Padua; to the right, San Isadore de Madrid (the patron saint of all farmers); below, in the center, is the saint of the Mission, San Juan Bautista, on his left, St. Francis, and on his right, San Buenaventura.

The baptistery is on the left, at the entrance.  Over its old, solid, heavy doors rises a half-circular arch.  Inside are two bowls of heavy sandstone.

In the belfry are two bells, one of which is modern, cast in San Francisco.  The other is the largest Mission bell, I believe, in California.  It bears the inscription:  “Ave Maria Purisima S. Fernando RVELAS me Fecit 1809.”

There is a small collection of objects of interest connected with the old Mission preserved in one room of the monastery.  Among other things are two of the chorals; pieces of rawhide used for tying the beams, etc., in the original construction; the head of a bass-viol that used to be played by one of the Indians; a small mortar; and quite a number of books.  Perhaps the strangest thing in the whole collection is an old barrel-organ made by Benjamin

Follow Us on Facebook