Established: November 1, 1776
By: Father Junipero Serra
Order: 7th of the 21 missions
Location: 70 miles North of San Francisco
Named For: Saint John of Capistrano (Italy)
Interesting fact: The Great Stone Church had a massive bell tower of 120 feet holding four bells.
San Juan Capistrano was founded twice. The first time was in 1775, when Father Serra told Captain Rivera that a mission was needed between San Diego and San Gabriel. On October 30 of that year, Father Lasuen and some soldiers set up a cross and dedicated the new mission. It was the 7th mission built and was named after St. John of Capistrano.
A week later, news arrived from San Diego that the Natives had attacked. Capistrano's people decided that it was not safe to stay there, and that was smart of them because a year later, when they returned, they found that the Natives had attacked there, too. On November 1, 1776, San Juan Capistrano was built for the second time. The church contained 6 domes on the ceiling and crashed-into-powder limestone. Three years before the mission was finished, the architect (Aguilar) died, leaving the Native Americans to finish the church. In 1806, the mission was finished, and, also sadly ruined by an earthquake in 1812.The Natives worked day and night to rebuild the church, and were very relieved when the mission was completed.
Capistrano is known for it's swallows. On March 19, a large flock of swallows arrived at the mission. The Natives took good care of the swallows and never caused any harm to them. On October 23, The birds left the mission. But that spring, on exactly March 19, the birds returned! And on October 23, the birds left! This went on for years, and goes on today!
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