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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mission San Fernando Rey de España (Part 3)

This past Spring, I was in Los Angeles and took an hour to stop and see Mission San Fernando Rey de España, located on the northern edge of L.A.'s San Fernando Valley. Here's a link to Part I and Part II of my visit. 

Mission San Fernando is one of 21 Spanish Missions built between 1769 to 1823. Above are paintings of the 21 different Missions, each with it's own architectural style and history. 

A map of the Missions - stretching from San Diego in the south to Solano, just north of San Francisco. 

Years ago, the California based department store Mervyn's sold each of the 21 Missions as collector's items. My wife and I (pre-kids) bought a few of them, and then realized we'd quickly run of of places to keep them. Above is a display case with all 21.

San Diego de Alcala, 1769. California's first Mission. 

Mission San Luis Rey, in Oceanside (north of San Diego).

Santa Clara de Asis, located on the University of Santa Clara campus, in Santa Clara. 

Of equal interest (to me, at least) was information on the various historic flags that have flown over California at one time or another. Obviously, the flags of Spain, Mexico, the independent (and very brief) "California Republic", and the US flags are the best known. 

The text for the California Republic flag reads: 

"The second attempt toward independence for California was made in Sonoma, Sunday June 14, 1846, when the Bear Flag Party raised the the flag of the California Republic.

The Bear Flag Party was a group of American settlers and trappers who banded together through mistaken fears that the Mexican government intended to drive them from the province.

They used the grizzly bear on the flag because he was respected as a fighter. Looking forward to the possible annexation to the United States, they added a start, a symbol emblematic of a state, and a red stripe from their country’s flag."

Lesser known is the flag of Argentina. Really?

The text reads: "The South American revolt for independence from Spain was felt in California when Hipolito Bouchard raised the flag of Argentina in Monterey, Sunday, November 22, 1818. 

Borchard and his Buenos Aires insurgents, in the ARGENTINA and SANTA ROSE,  sailed into Monterey Bay and attacked and burned  the city, a Spanish possession. Sailing south, they landed north of Santa Barbara at Refugio, and at San Juan Capistrano before leaving the Pacific Coast. 

Argentina adopted the flag of General Jose de San Martin, to which they added a goldent rising sun, the emblem of power.”

Or the flag of Russia:

"In the name of Emperor Alexander I of Russia, the flag of the Russian American Company was raised by Ivan Kuskof at Fort Ross, Thursday September 10, 1812. 

Kurkof sailed from Sitka, Alaksa, to build a fort and establish a Russian colony in California.

The flag of the Russian American Company was raised because Russia had no national flag. The arms of Moscow, surrounded by the arms of the nations that formed the Russian Empire, were used in the shield.

Fort Ross is located 18 miles north of Bodega Bay, Sonoma County, California" - approximately 90 miles north of San Francisco. 

Finally, ten years before the "Bear Flag Revolt" - the 1836 flag of the Californians: 

"The first step towards independence for California was made by Juan Bautista Alvarado. He raise a “one star flag” in Monterey and proclaimed the territory “the free and sovereign State of California” on Sunday, November 6, 1836.

Alvarado, a young native-born Californian was joined by over one hundred Californians and “Mountain Men” in a revolt against Mexican rule. He was named president of the new state which existed until Sunday, July 9, 1837. 

This First California State Flag is now in the Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, California."

Exit through the gift shop: there was a huge selection of religious and religious themed items, from the sacred to what felt a lot more like tchotchkes (Yiddish for trinkets). 

Back outside in the large quad, and the historic fountain. Not sure how historically accurate the tropical foliage was, but who cares - it was really beautiful. 

What wasn't too beautiful were the necessary, but ugly, electrical towers along the edge of the property.

Another view from the parking lot. These things are huge. This is the view from where I parked. 

Driving away, this is a final view of the Mission's historic Convento. This was along the street. 

Continued driving. There was one more place I wanted to visit. 

San Fernando Mission Cemetery.

I'm embarrassed to say it's been years since I've stopped at my grandparents grave. Their marker was so overgrown, I could barely find it. 

I asked a maintenance worker if he had some clippers - just so I could cut back the grass. Instead, he came over and used a shovel to clear away the grass. 

I was suprised that the grave marker isn't really attached to anything - it's simply placed on the ground, and is easily movable. 

My grandmother and grandfather share a headstone (as this is a public blog, I decided to leave off last names). My grandmother Sue (she went by her middle name) lived to be 83.

My grandfather Bruno lived to be 75. He really was my "fun" grandfather. I have great memories of him taking me and my sister to the park when we were little, to places like Farmer's Market (at Sixth and Fairfax), and teaching me how to use power tools in his old school wood-shop garage. 

Above, my finger covering the "dash" -- representing his life on earth, and a reminder of the brevity of all our lives on earth. 

Christians believe that the choices we make here on earth with influence our eternity. How did we use our time? Our God-given talents? And our resources? Most importantly, what did we do with Jesus Christ? Did we embrace him as both Savior and Lord? Or did we see him only as good teacher or only an example to follow? 

Above, my grandparent's grave marker, with Mission San Fernando in the distance. 

While perhaps previous generations were obsessed with death, it feels like today we've gone to the other extreme - denying the reality of death, and - more sobering - the reality of eternity. There was a positive side to having cemeteries (verses, say, a parking lot) as part of a local church's property.

As I hit the road and headed home, I passed by some beautiful orange groves. The first citrus trees were planted by Spanish missionaries in the late 1700's. Today, only Florida produces more citrus. And in terms of oranges for eating (rather than for juice), California is #1. 

Here's a map showing the location of Mission San Fernando. Amazingly, they don't have a website (seriously?) but the Mission is featured on numerous websites, including here

© 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mission San Fernando Rey de España (Part 2)

Bob Hope (1903-2003) was an American comedian, actor, and entertainer. With a career spanning almost 80 years, he's well remembered for his six decades of entertaining US Troops serving overseas. There's even a local regional airport - Hollywood Burbank AIrport - that until recently was named after him. 

That said, it felt a bit odd to learn that Bob Hope was buried in a special garden at Mission San Fernando, next to his wife Dolores. 

Bob Hope was initially buried adjacent to the Mission at the San Fernando Cemetery. In 2005, his remains were moved to the mission grounds itself.  There, a special garden was created next to the Mission's main chapel.

Bob Hope was an outstanding entertainer and citizen. He easily could have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Based on his decades of service to the US armed forces around the world, he should have been buried in Arlington. 

I'm unaware of another celebrity buried on any California mission.

While the garden on the Mission property where Bob and his wife Dolores are are buried is nice enough, it honestly felt a little strange having such a large part of the mission focused solely on one individual (and their spouse). 

Inside the Mission, there are a couple of display cabinets featuring images of Bob Hope through the years. Bob Hope was a great American. As a college student, I had the chance to see him preform live at UCLA - which was great. 

That said, this display would seem more appropriate to have this display at a Hollywood themed museum, or at the Hollywood Burbank airport. 

Other parts of the Mission featured historical displays of Mission life in the early 1800's, which made a whole lot more sense. 

Blacksmith area (above) and farming tools (below). 

In its peak year, in 1819, San Fernando had 12,800 head of cattle, which were a major source of food and revenue. The mission also had a large number of sheep, (an average of 5,000 in its peak years). Between 1811-1821, over one thousand Tongva Native Americans converts lived and worked at the Mission. 

While the impact of Spanish missionaries on the Native population is beyond the scope of this blog post, it was certainly better than their interaction with secular secular Spanish or Mexican authorities - or with the Anglo Americans settlers who followed. 

Outside at the fountain. 

Massive azalea plant. The azalea's I planted at my home are tiny in comparison. Helps to have years of growth, and the hot summers of the San Fernando Valley. 

Another view of the large outdoor quad (quadrangle). It certainly didn't have this beautiful, manicured lawn back in the 1800's. 

Inside, more historic displays. Father Serra, who's remains are buried at Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo - in Carmel, California. 

Spanish military uniforms of the period. 

Dining room. 

Interior bedroom.

Kitchen. During the Mission years, contact with the outside world was very limited. Almost everything had made or created on site. 

Mission San Fernando had an incredible 32,000 grape vines. 

Love what it says on the bottom: "Sorry! No samples today." Seriously? They give out samples?

Downstairs in the small cellar - examples of wine barrels. 

Back upstairs, in image of Jesus and his twelve apostles. 

A final view of the interior, featuring Baroque style artwork on the walls. 

And a map of the 21 California Missions, stretching from San Diego in the south to Sonoma, north of San Francisco. 

Here's a link to Part I from last week. More next week in a third (and final) post on the Mission.

© 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017

An afternoon at Mission San Fernando Rey de España

Mission San Fernando Rey de España is located in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. It's the only California mission that's actually within Los Angeles city limits. 

Greater Los Angeles has two Missions: Mission San Gabriel Arcángel and Mission San Fernando Rey de España.

Mission San Gabriel Arcángel is actually located much closer, less than 10 miles, from downtown Los Angeles. However, it's outside of Los Angeles city limits and located in the city of San Gabriel. Meanwhile, Mission San Fernando Rey de España is located 23 miles away from downtown - but is still within Los Angeles city limits.   

I was in Los Angeles earlier this Spring, spending time with co-workers at USC. Above, the intersection of the Harbor Freeway and the Century Freeway (more commonly known as the 110 and the 105 Freeways, respectively) south of campus. Seen La La Land? This is where the opening scene of La La Land was filmed. 

After breakfast with some former co-workers in Playa del Rey, I headed out to Cal State Northridge in the San Fernando Valley. 

Cal State Northridge is one of several communities in Los Angeles' massive San Fernando Valley. I say Los Angeles' because most of the San Fernando Valley, usually referred to as "the Valley," is part of the city of Los Angeles. 

Outside CSUN: Cal State University Northridge. I had some appointments with a few faculty members. 

On campus I walked by the CSUN campus library. If it seems slightly familiar, it's been featured in such films as Star Trek and Sky High

Afterwards, I had some time before heading home. I've driven by Mission San Fernando numerous times, but had never actually gone inside. Plus, what in the world was the "Bob Hope Memorial Garden"? 

HUGE bougainvillea near the entrance. As I shared in the previous post, I love this plant. 

While the Mission grounds are open as a museum, it also has a functioning church. 

Enter through the gift shop. There is a nominal $5 charge to see the grounds, church, and museum. 

Founded in 1797, Mission San Fernando Rey de España is the 17th of the 21 California Missions.

Much of the Mission serves a museum. 

Lots of displays on both the Mission and the larger scope of the California Missions. 

The 1985 US Postage stamp honoring Junípero Serra, the Catholic priest who founded the first nine of the California missions. 

The obligatory "Isle of California" map. This one is from 1650. By the time the Mission was founded in 1797, Spanish (and other) explorers had updated the map. 

The Mission has been rebuilt several times, including after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. The church is located on the left. 

Inside the long and narrow church. 

The very ornate altar at the front of the church, reflecting both the historic theology of the Catholic Church and the Baroque style of the time. 

Sign outside the church pointing to the Cemetery - and the what? Bob Hope Memorial Garden. What's that all about?

More on that next time in Part II

© 2017