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Mission Church

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The Church you see here is actually the fifth on the site. The first was built in 1774. It was destroyed during the 1775 raid when Padre Jayme was martyred. The second Church was built in 1776 and enlarged in 1780 (considered Church #3). It was again enlarged and reinforced in 1813 (#4). All that remains of that Church today are a few portions of the back part of the Church and the bottom of the campanario. The present Church (#5) was built in 1930, following the outlines of the 1813 Church.

Longshot Church interior
Picture taken 11:20am 23 Jul 2002

You may have noted that the windows in this Church, like most other mission churches, are high up on the wall. There are two main reasons for this: less stress on the windows due to the weight of the walls and better protection from attack.

Like most mission churches this one is long, with a short width (150 feet long by 30 feet wide here). The narrow widths are because there were no construction techniques that allowed joining large wooden beams together lengthwise. So, the Church is just as wide as the shortest tree felled to create the beams in the ceiling.

Walk to the back of the Church. In front of you is the choir loft (entered from the outside which is why you see no stairs). Under the loft are the front doors to the Church. They are hand-carved replicas of the original doors. Portraits of Mary, Mother of Sorrows and Saint Joseph are at the sides of the doors.

Picture taken 11:10am 23 Jul 2002

Crucifix at back of Church
Picture taken 11:10am 23 Jul 2002

The large carved crucifix is from Mexico.

The bapistry contains two items of historic interest. The font is a replica of that used on Majorca to baptize Blessed Serra. The carved wood statue of Saint Anne (mother of Mary and patroness of all mothers) dates from the sixteenth century and is the oldest wood carving at the Mission.

Now, proceed toward the altar at the front of the Church.

Picture taken 11:10am 23 Jul 2002
On the way back toward the altar look down. You will see two colors of tiles. The darker of the two are original tiles from the 1813 Church.
Floor tiles
Picture taken 11:15am 23 Jul 2002

Records describing the original altar are lost to time; however it's said that planks from a ship were used to construct a simple altar similar to the one you see before you.

Picture taken 11:20am 23 Jul 2002

Saint Joseph
St. Joseph
Picture taken 12:45pm 23 Jul 2002

Picture taken 12:45pm 23 Jul 2002
Blessed Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary
Picture taken 12:45pm 23 Jul 2002

The statues of Joseph and Mary are period pieces carved in wood and then clothed in cloth vestments. The armless crucifix over the altar dates from the 1700s and was carved in Italy and brought to the Mission in the 1930s by the then parish priest. The lack of arms has no significance other than showing the ill effects of time. The priest at the time was going to have new arms made for the statue but was talked into leaving it as is by a nun who said, "let the parish be the arms of Christ, as it is the parish that does the work of Jesus."

Crucifix without arms
Picture taken 12:45pm 23 Jul 2002

The statue of Saint Gabriel on the left side of the sanctuary is a polychrome statue dating from the original Mission. The small statue of Blessed Serra on the right side of the sanctuary is from Majorca Blessed Serra's birthplace.
St. Gabriel
Picture taken 12:45pm 23 Jul 2002
Serra Altar Statue
Picture taken 11:25am 23 Jul 2002

To the right of the altar you see a marble cross. This marks the burial spot of five Franciscan padres, including Padre Jayme, California's first christian martyr. The candle burns continuously in honor of Padre Jayme.

Burial Site
Picture taken 12:45pm 23 Jul 2002
Padre Juan Figuar
Padre Luis Jayme
5 Nov 1775
Padre Juan Mariner
Padre Jose Panto
Padre Fernando Martin

[Side Note: I would like to express thanks to the staff at the Mission for allowing me entry into the sanctuary for the purpose of making better pictures than I could get at the altar rail; the normal boundary for tourists.]

Finally, look to the left side of the altar at the pulpit. See anything different? This pulpit has a canopy over it as opposed to the smaller top seen at the other missions. This canopy indicates the Church is a Basilica; a Church of historic significance as determined by the Pope). The painting behind the pulpit is of Saint Didacus and dates from 1775.

Picture taken 11:25am 23 Jul 2002

Walk back to the center of the Church and exit via the door opposite where you entered. Look up as you exit the door; the lintels over the door are original...

Exit into the garden

Navigation for Mission San Diego de Alcalá:

Mission Home :: History :: Map :: Asistencia :: First Mission :: Start Tour :: Church :: Garden :: Pieta Garden :: Museum :: Quadrangle

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