December 30, 2014

Photo Essay: Mission San Fernando Rey de España (Updated)

It's curious that I'd gone to San Diego and Santa Barbara counties to explore their missions, yet I hadn't been to the only mission within Los Angeles city limits. It was time to remedy that.

The 17th mission (of 21 total) along El Camino Real, Mission San Fernando Rey de España was established September 8, 1797 by Fray Fermin Francisco De Lasuen, the second Presidente of the missions after Junipero Serra.

It was one of nine missions he established in his 18 year tenure.

Its layout follows the common footprint of the California missions:

...several adobe, Spanish-tiled buildings in a quadrangle...

....surrounding a central fountain.

The Convento, a guesthouse and the padre's quarters, is this mission's most famous building, unique with its four foot walls, 21 Roman arches...

...and restored wine cellar, though no wine has been produced here for over 100 years.

Winemaking was a necessity for many of the missions to be economically self-sufficient...

...and to supply the wine used (as the blood of Christ) in the traditional Roman Catholic mass.

The Mission San Fernando, the only mission named after King Ferdinand of Spain, still has an active congregation, with regular services...

...conducted in the Old Mission Church...

...which is an exact replica of the third church that stood there, built in 1806 and destroyed in the 1971 San Fernando earthquake.

Much of the mission has been preserved – the bells still ring in the tower above the statue of Fray Junipero Serra –

...but it fell on hard times in the mid-1800s, when prospectors literally dug up its floors looking for gold...

...and the buildings were put up for sale, later repurposed for a number of secular uses.

It was returned to the Catholic Church in 1861...

...though it continues to be famous in the non-religious world, as a frequent filming location (and repository of some movie props, including the chandeliers in the Convento)...

...and the burial site of Bob Hope. No matter where you go in LA, you can catch a little glimpse of Hollywood.

[Update August 2015]

For some reason, you can't actually get directly into the San Fernando Mission Cemetery from the San Fernando Mission, and vice versa.

But if you drive around to the other side and re-park your car, you can experience the beautiful landscaping...

...and more statues... this much more modern cemetery that was founded in 1952.

And although the cemetery is full of signs pointing you to the Mission Chapel, you can only gaze at it through a locked gate.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Faces at California's First Mission
Photo Essay: Past the Mission
Photo Essay: On a Mission in the Santa Ynez Valley

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