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Church Interior

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The interior of Mission San Rafael is more modern than Mission-era style. If you did not know this was a Mission you would think it was just a simple parish church upon entering.

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 pictures taken 2/17/2012 and created with PTGui panorama photo software

Now that you've seen the whole inside, let's take a look at the altar reredo, ambo (pulpit), and Stations of the Cross in more detail. Click on any picture to see an expanded view and/or a slideshow...

Except for the Stations of the Cross, the altar area contains all of the art in the Church.

Picture taken 10:38am 17 Feb 2012

Top of ReredoExpand
Picture taken 10:39am 17 Feb 2012

The reredo is simple, featuring the Angel St. Rafael. To the left you see the top half and to the right the bottom half featuring the Tabernacle.

To the left of the altar is Our Lady of Guadalupe and to the right St. Joseph. Detailed pictures are just below.

Lower ReredoExpand
Picture taken 10:39am 17 Feb 2012
Our Lady of GuadalupeExpand
Picture taken 10:39am 17 Feb 2012
St. RafaelExpand
Picture taken 10:39am 17 Feb 2012
St. JosephExpand
Picture taken 10:39am 17 Feb 2012
Picture taken 10:43am 17 Feb 2012

The ambo (pulpit) is to the left and in front of the altar. There are three artistic elements on the ambo:

  • a dove holding an olive branch over water; a reference to God's peace returning to humanity after flood,
  • a depiction of St. Rafael (the animal at his feet is a representation of a fish as this would be consistent with the Book of Tobit and a Mission associated with water),
  • and one version of the Franciscan coat of arms that was given to the Archdiocese. The arms are the arms of Jesus and St. Francis. St. Francis received the stigmata of Christ. This symbol indicates a Franciscan order.
Dove with Olive BranchExpand
Picture taken 10:43am 17 Feb 2012
St. RafaelExpand
Picture taken 10:43am 17 Feb 2012
Franciscan Coat of ArmsExpand
Picture taken 10:43am 17 Feb 2012

Note: While building this page I questioned that the animal at the foot of St. Rafael was a fish. My image turned out to not be detailed enough to tell. My thanks to Teri Brunner at the Mission for satisfying my curiosity by providing a close up image of the animal (shown with permission below). While a strange looking fish, it does have fins and scales and clearly is some form of fish. For the full story of how a fish and St. Rafael are connected read the Book of Tobit in the Catholic bible.

Fish DetailExpand
Picture taken 9 May 2012 - Teri Brunner

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross in this church are interesting. Unlike most missions which have very dark oil paintings, they are three-dimensional carvings of the fourteen Stations that date from the 19th century. 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 10:40am 17 Feb 2012

What were Sundays like in the early days? From a text in the Mission museum window back in 2003...

On Sundays it was not uncommon to see a smany as 2000 people at the Mission. Indian families would come from all over Marin. At Mass Father Amoros had a seven string orchestra. A young man played the cello but all the other musicians were women. The Mission Indians sang the Latin mass in four-part harmony. Sunday was also an important trade day. Families brought in hides and meat from animals they had killed and exchanged them with the missionaries.

What about important feast days? Again, from a text in the window...

Saint Raphael's feast day on October 24 was an important celebration at the mission named for him. In Mexican California this fiesta included rodeo [sic] at which there was horse riding, cattle branding, and rope tricks. Mere boys would show off their riding skills by galloping past the crowd and snatching up coins from the ground. At this holiday there was also lots of food, games of chance at fargo and monte tables, dancing and even a bull fight.

Now, let's exit the Mission and visit the parish church...Trail

Navigation for Mission San Rafael Arcángel:

Mission Home :: History :: Museum :: Church Exterior :: Church Interior :: Parish Church

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Copyright © 2003-2012 Tom Simondi, All Rights Reserved
Pray the rosary for peace!