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Navigation for San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo:

Below you should see a rotating panorama of the complete inside of the Mission Church. You should be able to click on the panorama to stop the rotation at any point and then drag the mouse left, right, up, or down to see any specific area. If you have a mouse wheel, it should be able to be used to zoom in and out. If one or more of these behaviors does not work click on the full screen icon (top right corner) and try the behavior again. If you are at full screen, press the ESCape key to have the panorama return to this page.

Panorama taken 2/25/2012 and created with PTGui panorama photo software

You enter the Basilica at the back. Two of the first things you see are the Umbraculum and Tintinnabulum. The Umbraculum (canopy) is on your right. The Unbraculum is a symbol used to signify a Basilica. It is cloth rather than solid because when/if a Pope visits the Basilica the Unbraculum is opened. It derives from the use of such an umbrella to shield early Popes from the sun. The Tintinnabulum (on the left) also relates to the Pope. When a Pope says Mass in a church the Tintinnabulum is used to lead the procession into the church. These were used during the visit of Pope John Paul II on 17 September 1987.

Tintinnabulum Umbraculum

Also in the back is the Bapistry with the font and painting of Saint John the Baptist. This painting was ordered byh Serra from Mexico City in 1776 and it arrived in 1777. The theme of baptism was used throughout the mission system. The animals and birds in the painting are symbolic. The hare in the dark background represents Man, who must put hope of salvation in Jesus. The painting is unsigned by executed by Josè de Paez.

Baptismal Font St John the Baptist

Now, take a walk down the aisle to the Sanctuary. We'll look at the art and Stations of the Cross further down the page; for now we'll concentrate on the Sanctuary and altar areas.


First, we'll look at the altar and reredos in some detail. (I have to apologize for some of the pictures as it was dark in the Mission and a few pictures show some small amount of blur due to the inability of the camera to properly focus. Some day I'll try to get back and retake those pictures.)

The reredos in the current Church were reconstructed. The original was destroyed in 1851 when the ceiling collapsed. Fragments of the original and descriptions say that the orginals resembled the one at Mission Dolores. Some of the materials may have come from the Mother Church of San Fernando in Mexico City which had its altarpieces disassembled as architectural fashions changed. What you see below is an overview and then detail of the statues on the reredos.


  Top Center  
  Saint Charles Borromeo  
Left Top   Right Top
Saint Michael Archangel    
Left Bottom Center Cross Right Bottom


Is there a site I may visit to label who the saints are in the artwork at Mission Carmel? I recently visited to Mission Carmel and took pictures of some of the artwork. Is there a site I may visit to label who these saints are? Thank you or all your help. Some of the most notable statues and paintings at Carmel include: •The statuary in the beautiful reredo on the back wall of the sanctuary. The bultos include: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, San Miguel Arcangel, San Antonio de Padua and Santo Dominic. •There is also a statue of San Carlos Borromeo (with the Holy Spirit carved above) near the top of this reredo.•A bulto of San Jose is enclosed within an ornate ‘nicho’ along the side wall of the church.•The bulto of Our Lady of Belen (in the old mortuary chapel) is historically very significant as it was brought to Califonia with the founding expedition in 1769.•The painting of Junipero Serra in the Carmel Mission Museum is a copy of the frontispiece engraving from Palou’s 1797 biography Regarding sources on saints. http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/indexsnt.htm is a master list of patron saints. A Franciscan supported site http://www.americancatholic.org/ would also be a good one to check as the Franciscans selected most of the art. http://www.catholic.org/saints/faq.phphas extensive lists and some images of saints and angels. A gentleman from Australia has pulled together an easy to navigate site featuring information on saints: http://www.catholic-pages.com/dir/saints.asp That said, I have to express some skepticism on how easy it will be to identify all of your pictures using any master collection of information and images on saints. There are over ten thousand saints so it could be like looking for a needle in a haystack. You might want to consider scheduling an appointment with the Carmel mission curator or mission museum librarian to help identify the images in your collection.



The present furnishings of the church are mainly the originals as far as the statues, paintings and other artifacts are concerned. Most of these are of the lot that were removed from the building by the Monterey Pastor, Fr. Sadoc Villarasa in 1851 when the ceiling began to show signs of giving way. They survived by being used at the Old Presidio Chapel when it was enlarged to serve as a parish church in 1856 and remained in place until their return here in the first half of the twentieth century. In the early 1960’s, the Diocesan Bishop, Aloyisus Willinger petitioned the Holy See in Rome to be designated a Minor Basilica. A Basilica is the highest honorary rank for a church and implies great historical and artistic importance. Pope John XXlll honored Carmel Mission’s church with the rank of Basilica in 1961 in recognition of Serra’s heroic work in the establishment of Christianity on the western coast of the United States as well as the unique architectural features of the structure such as the Moorish dome and the parabolic ceiling.




Serra Gravesite





Serra Headstone


Crespi Headstone


Lopez Headstone










Governor Romeu


Presidio Commander


Reliquary Sign


Serra Coffin Requary


Coffin Wood


Coffin Wood



Blessed Serra




Glory of Heaven

Glory of Heaven painting ordered by Serra from Mexico City in 1771, along with a companion Horrors of Hell painting, now lost. The paintings arrived in 1774, and were hung in the body of the church. In 1787, California's first "foreign visitor," Frenchman Jean Francois Galaup, Conte de la Perouse, found the Horrors of Hell "absolutely necessary to appeal to the senses of [the] recent convert," but thought the Glory of Heaven "too sublime for [them]" to comprehend. The Glory of Heaven portrays the Trinity, Mary and Joseph, a number of Biblical figures, and saints and martyrs. Of particular note, Saint Francis of Assisi kneeling on the right, wearing the same gray habit of Serra's apostolic chooege, holding a cross, and with left hand outstretched to Saint Dominic, representing camaraderie between the Franciscan and Dominican Orders. The painting is signed "Josè de Paez executed this, in Mexico."



St Anthony?


Coat of Arms


1791 St Francis


St Rose of Lima








St Rose of Virtubo?




Organ Pipes


Our Lady of Guadalupe




Our Lady of Sorrows

The Our Lady of Sorrows painting was ordered by Serra in 1776 and arrived in 1778. The painting commemorates Mary's sorrows during her Son's life and death as represented by the dagger in her heart. Saint John the Apostle and Saint Mary Magdalene are assisting Jesus. The painting is signed Martin [or possibly Miguel] Rodriguez and it was painted in 1777. It was restored in the 1930s and the frame is original from 1777.






Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross in the Basilica are large oil paintings. Their origin is not mentioned in Mission literature. The gallery below shows all fourteen of the Stations. Click on a thumbnail to show the full image and then navigate between them in the lightbox or just click on the play button and watch the slide show.

1: Jesus is Condemned to Die
2: Jesus Carries the Cross
3: Jesus Falls the First Time
4: He Meets His Blessed Mother
5: Simon Helps Bear the Cross
6: Christ's Face Wiped by Veronica
7: Jesus Falls a Second Time
8: Jesus Meets Women of Jerusalem
9: Jesus Falls the Third Time
10: Jesus Stripped of His Garments
11: Jesus is Crucified
12: Jesus Dies on the Cross
13: Jesus Taken Down From Cross
14: Jesus' Body Laid in Tomb
Pictures taken 10:30am 25 Feb 2012

Off the side of the Basilica is an alcove that leads to some museum displays...Trail

Navigation for Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo:

Mission Home :: History :: Garden :: Basilica :: Museum :: Downie Museum :: Cemetery :: Munras Museum :: Courtyard :: Mora Museum


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Pray the rosary for peace!