Great Stone Church, San Juan Capistrano

30 Reviews

26801 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 (949) 234-1300

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    Mission Industrial Center

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    During a 1930's excavation they found the tallow vats where the Natives made soap, candles, grease and ointments from the animal fat. Other vats were used for dyeing wool. The Catalan furnaces or some of the oldest metal furnaces in California. There is also a kitchen in this area where the Juanenos cooked their food.

    Open Daily: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
    Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

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    West Wing Museum Rooms

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    This wing consist of some really nice museums and a educational center that is hands on for the children. Has lots of displays of artifacts from the missionary and rancho period.

    Open Daily: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
    Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

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    South Wing Museum Rooms

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    This was the living quarters for the missionaries and contained such as the kitchen, dormitory, pantry, Padres living room, guest bedroom, Padres dining room, and entry to the central courtyard. Now is houses the mission displays and rancho period from (1845-1865).

    Open Daily: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
    Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

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    Olive Millstone

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    This stone purpose was to crush olives for oil, which had many usage at the missions for cooking and trading goods. It was powered by either a Native boy or donkey.

    Open Daily: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
    Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

    Lovely shrine to the Virgin Mary
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    Soldiers Barracks ~ Museum

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    These were built in 1791 to house four to six Spanish soldiers that were left behind to help guard the mission. These building were later used as a blacksmith and stables when the mission was sold to Ranches (1845-1865). Now they house some really wonderful museum pieces.

    Open Daily: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
    Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

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    Founding Document ~1776

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    When I come across a plaque I like to record it by retyping it from its exact content.

    The plaque reads:

    Mission San Juan Capistrano
    With a Translation by Monsignor Vincent Lloyd-Russell
    Va. Jhs Ma. Jph
    The Mission of San Juan Capistrano which is about to be established in the valley of the same name or in its vicinity between the Missions of San Diego San Gabriel of the Earthquakes, about twenty leagues from both & too from the coastline of the South Sea, according to the agreement made between the Captain, Comandante Don Fernando de Riveray Moncada and the Father President of the Missions, Father Junipero Serra, on the thirteenth day of August 1775 by order and instructions of His Excellency the Viceroy of this New Spain, sent on the 24th of May and received on the first of August of the same year.

    Instructions (Arrangements)
    I assigned and named as Ministers and Missionaries for this new Mission: Father Preacher Fray Fermin Francisco Lasuen & Father Preacher Fray Gregorio Amurrio. For the escort the Comandante accepted only two of the four soldiers offered by the Missions, and he added four more from the Presidios. These were: Six Soldiers (leather jackets) and a muleteer named Feliciano. Of the Indians assigned to assist our Religious with their labors in the founding of this Mission, who came with the authority of His Excellency the Viceroy and of their own free will, and who left Baja California with departure of our Missionaries: Two Families of Man and Wife and Four Indian boys unmarried. Regarding provisions, the Comandante, in accordance with my petition, granted: Four tercios of fine flour, Two others of unsifted flour, Three tercios of beans, One tercio of Rice and an order on the granary of San Diego for twenty five fanegas of corn.

    And to please the natives (gentiles) and reciprocate their gifts,
    I gave to Father Lasuens: Four strings of beads of different colors. Concerning the cattle and cows that have just arrived at San Diego from Baja California, I assigned to this Mission:
    Nine milch (chichiguas) cows and a breed bul and a yoke of oxen from San Buenaventrura and moreover I shall take care of their replacement when the desired foundation is realized. Regarding mules and horses, the Fathers of this Mission have been assigned and have received: Eight pack mules, six broken and two unbroken and three saddle mules. Three horses broken and two mares, one of these with its colt.

    Regarding pigs, the Mission of San Diego will give a male and female; regarding chickens, it or San Gabriel will give what they can. The same will give two saddles with their trappings & bridles for Fathers and two others also furnished for the vaqueros. Regarding tools, I gave Father Lasuen:
    Twelve new, large hoes, Two axes for clearing or preparing charcoal, Six large machetes for cleaning up (brush etc.)

    Six new knives, and the branding iron with this mark CR
    For plowshares I have written to the Fathers of San Gabriel that while awaiting their supplies from Mexico they should satisfy their needs from the stores of San Buenaventura, which are kept at that Mission, for pickaxes, plowshares, and other iron tools.

    They have for the Church & Sacristy, a crucifix for the altar; one canvas portrait of more than a vara in length of the Virgin Mary, Domina Pastora, which has a condemned man on her shoulders, which Father Campa used; another canvas portrait, a little more than a third of a vara, of Our Lady of Soledad. Among others, a portrait of the Holy Patron (San Juan Capistrano). About four varas of muslin to make baldachino and backdrop for the Altar. A new Missal with the Saints of our Order. A number of double corporals of fine linen with burse and pall. An Amice of Breton lace, and two purificators of fine linen. A rochet of Bramant linen, with floral design and lace. Castile Wax for Masses for a year. The wine will be furnished from the two nearby missions as their supply allows.
    To this Mission have been allotted all of the ornaments of those that have come from Baja California for the Church as well as the houses; also within those ornaments will be found those for the use of the other two Ministers, and the two Fathers, (Juan) Prestamero and Imas.

    For the celebration fo Mass, the Mission of San Diego will give a chalice, which up to the present day has had no other use but to serve travelers; and from the Mission of San Buenaventura, the Fathers of San Gabriel will give a vestment of various colors. In the meantime also from there, the oils, surplice, Ritual, Baptismal shell and all the other requisites and a Bell.
    The Mission of San Anionio has given tow blank books bound in red leather for entries.

    With these beginnings & arrangements, Father Fermin left this Mission of San carlos de Monterey on the 21 of August 1775 in order to join with his Religious companion in the Mission of San Luis Obispo, May God bless them. Amen.

    Father Junipero Serra

    Presented by the riders of El Viaje de Portaola. April 2, 1976~

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    Sacred Garden and Bell Wall

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    The mission bells were always essential to missionary life and that of its surrounding community. When the bells rung, it was for births, marriages, mealtimes, work, religious functions, ships, or returning missionaries. The bells hung from a tree before the chapel could be built. They were even buried by the soldiers and Padres to protect them after word that the mission in San Diego had been attacked and its Padre killed. They were ordered to leave for the Fort in San Diego for their protection. Then a year later they returned and dug them up and rededicated them once the Great Stone Church was built.

    The largest were recast from the original 1796 that hung in the Great Stone Church and the smallest are original from 1804. It's not know what happened to the original bells.

    The Sacred Garden was added in the 1920's and seem befitting since it frames the bells.

    Four of Mission San Juan Capistrano's bells have inscriptions: The largest to the smallest; read as translated from Spanish:
    "Praised by Jesus, San Vicente. In honor of the Reverend Fathers, Ministers, 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." (Inscription Info from Engelhardt 1922, p. 242)

    Open Daily: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
    Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

    From the front courtyard Near the Basillica Entrance
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    Father Serra and Indian Boy Statue

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    The plaque reads:
    To the memory of Fray Junipero Serra
    Apostle of California, First Father-Presidente of the California Mission and Founder of this Mission of San Juan Capistrano. This statue dedicated in his honor Nov.24, 1914, the Two Hundred and First Anniversary of his birth. (Then it reads this again in Spanish)

    Open Daily: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
    Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

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    Great Stone Church

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    The Great Stone Church construction started in 1797 that took nine years to build. It was 180 feet long, five stories high at the sanctuary and was topped with seven stone domes and a bell tower. A tribute to their faith. Sadly in 1812 an earthquake struck destroying it and killing 40 faithful followers. The church was never reconstructed. Another was built in 1788 called Serra Chapel and is still in service. Not as grand, but just as beautiful. The Great Stone Church was stabilized in 2004 to keep it from crumbling anymore.

    It is neat to be able to walk up to it and touch it. There is not much left, but to see it in person and if you have some good imagination, what a impressive structure it must have been during its day.

    Open Daily: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
    Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

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    Peruvian Cactus Tree with Bloom

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    They have these lovely cactus along the wall of the mission. I was lucky enough to be able to get a photo of one. Called a Peruvian Cactus Tree that sometimes have these little purple fruit "pitaya" at certain times of the years, plus they can get 10 meters (33 ft) in height and 10-20 cm in diameter. They have this very beautiful nocturnal flowers that remain open for only one night.

    Open Daily: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
    Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

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    Peruvian Apple Cactus, (Cereus repandus)

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    This lovely tree was back in the picnic area. Probably overlooked by many, but not me. The second photo you'll see my son being is typical goofy self, (wouldn't have it any other way) is standing beneath it so you can see how big it is. He is 5-11. It's called a Peruvian Cactus Tree that sometimes have these little purple fruit "pitaya" at certain times of the years, plus they can get 10 meters (33 ft) in height and 10-20 cm in diameter. They have this very beautiful nocturnal flowers that remain open for only one night.

    Open Daily: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
    Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

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    The Great Stone Church

    by malianrob Written Jul 25, 2008

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    Basically these are the ruins of the the Great Stone Church. It was built in 1797 and it took about 9 years to complete. Some people have asked why dont they rebuild the church and the answer is that these are the ruins of the original church. Keyword: Ruins.
    On December 8 th 1812 on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception there was an earthquake. Most of the Great Stone Church fell and 42 people were killed, including two children that were ringing the bells at the tower.
    The stone church which was 180 feet long, five stories high at the sanctuary and was topped with seven stone domes and a bell tower. It was the largest stone structure west of the Mississippi.

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    The Great Stone Church Ruins

    by keida84 Written Apr 19, 2005

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    The Great Stone Church stood only six years until December 8, 1812, when a tremendous earthquake shook most of Southern California, from San Luis Obispo to Oceanside. The church bell tower fell into the church, carrying two young bell ringers to their death. Mass had just started when the quake hit and the parishioners panicked, trying to get out the doors which had been twisted in the quake and would not open. Those who followed the priests' directions to go to the sacristy survived, others did not. When the shaking finally stopped, forty people had died. The church was in ruins and was never rebuilt.

    The ruins have been slowly excavated and preserved. The remains are still impressive today.

    The Great Stone Church Ruins Mission SJC
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    The Great Stone Church

    by zrim Updated Mar 3, 2004

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    Work on the Great Stone Church commenced in 1796 with the dedication of the completed church coming ten years later on September 7, 1806. Unfortunately, disaster struck on Sunday, December 8, 1812. A severe earthquake rattled the San Juan Capistrano area and the Great Stone Church was decimated. The belltower fell into the church just as Sunday mass began and at least 40 parishoners were killed. The earthquake left the church as a mass of rubble. In 1895 preservation efforts began and 400 tons of debris were removed from the Great Stone Church. Today work continues to shore up the remaining structure.

    Remains of the Great Stone Church
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    The Great Stone Church

    by Goner Updated Jun 28, 2003

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    With local Indian labor this monumental church took nine years to build. It was begun in 1797 and dedicated in 1806, the church only stood for 6 years before a massive earthquake in 1812 toppled the chuch killing 40 Indian worshippers inside. The church has never been rebuilt and is refered to as the "American Acropolis". As funds are raised the church will be rebuilt in the future. Scaffolding has been erected displacing many of the mud nests of the swallows decreasing the numbers that revisit San Juan Capistrano.

    The Great Stone Church
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