Nestled in unassuming San Juan Capistrano lies what is one of the biggest and most beautiful Catholic missions built during the Spanish Conquest of Mexico & California.
It is often called the Jewel of the Missions and it has many stories to tell. From the legend of the swallow to the earthquake that almost destroyed it this old building it has put Capistrano on the map has a special place in my heart.
Although it was the 7th mission Fr. Junipero Serra built in his Camino Real road (link); it was the first mission that my mother and I visited in 2009 and it was the one thats sparked our own journey of visiting all the California missions!
I learned more about the actual mission rather than the Spanish history behind it and it was a beautiful treat even if you’re not a devout Catholic it is a good place to learn about our history as a state and as a nation.
My favorite story is the legend of the swallows:
It is said that one of the first Frs. of the mission was walking around town and he saw a shopkeeper trying to bring down a swallow nest.
“These damn birds they dirty everything” the shopkeeper answered
“But where will they go?”
“I don’t care as long as they leave me alone” the shopkeeper kept saying.
” come over to the mission there is room for everyone” the Fr. said and the very next morning they were building a nest in the mission.
Truth or fictional story the swallows do return every spring to the mission & Capistrano in their famous festival.
There is a lot of history here: im the church, in the town, in the surrounding area.