Mission San Fernando Church

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.

[pano file=”https://missiontour.org/wp/panoramas/sanfernando/church/sf-churchpan.htm”]

Church Interior

San Fernando Mission Church Wells Fargo Safe

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

If you enter from the back of the Church one of the first things you will come upon is an old Wells Fargo safe. It may seem odd but probably not when you consider that the missions were likely stops on any stage route and safekeeping of materials carried by the coaches would be a concern.

San Fernando Mission Church Confessional

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

A confessional (presently unused) sits nearby.

From the back of the Church you can see the typical mission construction: a long, narrow nave with two rows of pews and a center aisle.

San Fernando Mission Church Interior Long View

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

At the back of the Church is the Baptistry. 3093 Native Americans were baptized here. The mural along the back wall depicts the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist.

San Fernando Mission Church Baptistry Entrance

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Baptistry

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

At the front of the church to the left is the ambo (pulpit). The Sanctuary light is behind it toward the back on the left side (facing the altar). The altar takes up the entire eastern wall.

San Fernando Mission Church Ambo

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Sanctuary Light

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

The Altar

The altar in the church is not the original nor is it a reproduction of the original. It is, instead, a 400-year-old altar from a church in Spain that was installed in the mission in 1991. It’s called the Ezcaray Altar after the town where it was originally built. A single person (with assistants) probably carved the original in 1608 for the Church of St. Philip Neri in Ezcaray, Spain.

San Fernando Mission Church Sanctuary

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

The altar is not a solid construction but composed of hundreds of parts that likely came from at least three different sanctuaries. In 1925 a private Pasadena art dealer acquired the altar but its 523 pieces stayed in storage until the dealer’s death in the 1940s. The altar passed to a group of investors who eventually donated the altar to the archdiocese after funds were found to restore it. The restoration was performed at Mission San Carlos Borromeo (Carmel) by Richard Menn, a protègè of Sir Harry Downie. There were no diagrams to work from so the altar was put together in the style of Spanish altars (rather like a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box).

San Fernando Mission Church Reredos Top Left

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Reredos Top Center

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Reredos Top Right

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Reredos Center Left

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Tabernacle

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Reredos Center Right

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Reredos Bottom Right

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Reredos Center

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Reredos Bottom Left

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

There are three main panels that frame statues and painted scenes.

The center section shows the Holy Trinity bringing St. Ferdinand into heaven. The highlight is a set of gold-leaf sun rays in a sunburst. The Trinity depiction was used in Spain more than in the missions; another indicator of the altar’s origin. The St. Ferdinand statue was from the mission’s original altar (built in 1797) and was restored after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake and then added to the Ezcaray Altar when it was installed.

The statues on the side sections represent St. Philip Neri, St. Dominic, Our Lady of the Pillar, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. Francis. St. Mary Magdalene is wearing sackcloth, a repentance symbol, and St. Michael. And, to add a mission flavor, the statue of St. Francis was renamed to represent Saint Serra once the altar was installed in the mission.

The altar also contains a sculpted throne of angels. The tabernacle is surrounded by seven letters symbolizing the seals of the Apocalypse; seals that will be opened when Christ returns for the final judgment.

(For more, see the 1991 L.A. Times article about the altar.)

As a slight detour, if you are in downtown Los Angeles and visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels you can see another part of the Ezcaray collection. A retablo has been installed in the Cathedral. The photo here is from a 2006 visit to the Cathedral.

Ezcaray Retablo

Picture taken 3:11pm 14 August 2006

If you walk up to the altar rail you will see two graves in the floor. One is a generic stone that probably represents some, if not all, of the 2,449 burials at the mission between 1797 and 1846. The other has specific names and dates of Padres buried at the mission. [Note: The generic RIP tile is repeated several more times throughout the Church.]

San Fernando Mission Church Generic Grave

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Multiple Grave

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

EN ESTA YGLESIA Y EN EL CEMINTERIO
ADJUNTO YACEN LOS RESTOS MORIALES
DE CINCO FRAILES DE LA ORDEN
FRANCISCANA QUE TRABAJABAN
EN ESTA MISIONFR. MARTIN DE LANDAETA FALLECIO 1809
FR. JOSE ANTONIO URRESTI 1812
FR. JOSE DE MIGUEL 1813
FR. PEDRO CABOT 1836
FR. THOMAS ELEUTERIO ESTENAGA 1847REQURESCANI IN PACE

Church Art

Five works of art hang on the walls of the Church. There are no plaques to describe the art in any detail. A story circulates saying that one of the works of art was found at the side of the road with road information written on the back during reconstruction and its being returned to the Mission. There is no indication in the Church that the story might or might not be true. Here are the five pieces of art…

San Fernando Mission Church Painting 01

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Painting 02

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Painting 03

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Painting 04

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Painting 05

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

While you are toward the front of the church be certain to look back at the choir loft and stained glass window there.

San Fernando Mission Church Choir Loft

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

San Fernando Mission Church Choir Loft Window

Picture taken 2:15pm 13 August 2015

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross in this church are paintings. Some of the paintings are damaged and require restoration. 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.

I

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 01

1 – Jesus is condemned to die

II

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 02

2 – Jesus carries the cross

III

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 03

3 – Jesus falls the 1st time

IV

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 04

4 – Jesus meets His Blessed Mother

V

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 05

5 – Simon helps bear the cross

VI

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 06

6 – Veronica wipes face of Jesus

VII

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 07

7 – Jesus falls a 2nd time

VIII

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 08

8 – Jesus meets women of Jerusalem

IX

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 09

9 – Jesus falls the 3rd time

X

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 10

10 – Jesus stripped of His garments

XI

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 11

11 – Jesus is crucified

XII

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 12

12 – Jesus dies on the cross

XIII

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 13

13 – Jesus taken down from the cross

XIV

San Fernando Stations of the Cross 14

14 – Jesus body laid in the tomb

Pictures taken 2:20pm 13 Aug 2015