Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana

It was very frosty and cold this morning after the last rain storm passed through our region on Friday-Saturday. Our overnight low was 28F, with wind chill bringing it down to 22F (well below normal for this time of year). The newly emerging leaves on all of our bougainvillea have turned black from the icy temps, Hana's outside water bowl and the birdbath were blocks of ice, and there was a layer of frost covering most of the ground. No snow in La Cresta (darnit!), but quite a lot of it came down in our local mountains . Other than the brisk temperatures, it was a gorgeous & sunny day today, so we drove up to Northridge to meet Gil's parents for dim sum, since we had missed our annual Christmas lunch with them back in December due to the heavy rains. It's not that they live in Northridge or that the San Fernando Valley is the Dim Sum capital of SoCal (I think that designation, hands down, goes to the San Gabriel Valley). But his parents live in Camarillo and we live in Murrieta, so Northridge is kind of a half-way point so that we don't have to drive 140 miles one way to meet up. And, since we were in the area, we had to stop by the San Fernando Mission on our drive home to check this one off of our list of the 21 California missions we have vowed to visit sometime in our lifetime. Six down, fifteen to go. 

2/27/11 Just love it. Only in California are Palm trees and snow-capped mountains like two peas in a pod. View of the San Gabriel Mountains from I-15N in Rancho Cucamonga.

2/27/11 Another view of the San Gabriels going eastbound on the 210 Fwy. at La Tuna Canyon Rd.

2/27/11 Snow at the La Tuna Canyon Rd. exit just off the 210. Lots of cars with spectators parked on the roadside. 

Now, onto the Mission! Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana, the 17th of Alta California's 21 missions along the El Camino Real, was founded by Fray Fermin Francisco de Lasuen on September 8, 1797. One of the most interesting parts of this mission is the "Convento" aka the "long building," which took about a dozen years to build (1810-1822) and is, according to Wiki, "the largest adobe building in California and the largest original building at any of the California missions." The adobe walls of the Convento are 4-feet thick and the most recognized feature is the long portico or corridor of 21 Roman arches.

2/27/11 Roman arches of the Convento (facing San Fernando Mission Rd.)

Convento (street view from San Fernando Mission Rd.)

2/27/11 What looks to be one of the original iron grilles on the Convento.

2/27/11 Bougainvillea in full bloom next to the Convento. 

A gorgeous chandelier in the Museum. Wish I had something like that hanging in our great room.


Olive trees in the East Garden.

The museum houses a small but very nice collection of Native American basketry.

Another fab mission-style chandelier, in the Convento.

Displays in the Convento. 

La Sala. 
From the interpretive sign: "This heavy-beamed reception room is one of the largest and most elegant of any among the missions. Its large double doors mark the main entrance to the mission itself. Weary travelers received a warm and hearty welcome here and enjoyed the famous Franciscan hospitality for as long as they wished to stay. At a later date, this room served as a chapel when the original church was abandoned."

Historic library of the Bibliotheca Montereyensis-Angelorum Dioeceseos. The Mission is home to the Archival Center, a research facility that houses many of California's historical ecumenical documents dating from the Mission Period (ca. 1840). 

Some really fragile volumes in the collection.

These are just so cool. There were a series of posters on California's State Emblems on display in the Convento, all with a copyright date of 1958 by the Latin American Studio in Santa Barbara. Wonder if reprints are available. This one is of the State's 10th emblem, the Official State Fish: California Golden Trout.

The 6th State emblem: Official State Insect, the California Dogface Butterfly.

The 7th State emblem: Official State Bird, the California Quail.

The 3rd State emblem: Official State Flower, the California Poppy.

Exiting the Convento and heading towards the West Garden.

A tranquil waterfall and creek, almost hidden from view behind a bamboo thicket along the West Garden.

View of the Old Mission Church from the West Garden.

West Garden.

The Old Mission Church.
From the Mission brochure: "The fourth Mission church is an exact replica of the earlier edifice erected between 1804 and 1806....The interior furnishings were used in the earlier church...The 16th century gold-leafed reredos, a memorial to Eugenie Hannon, was installed in 1991. Pope John Paul II visited the church in September of 1987."

The original church was badly damaged in the 1971 San Fernando earthquake and had to be completely rebuilt. The reconstructed church was dedicated in 1974. 

"Our Lady of Hope" (replica of the 17th C. statue at the Basilica of Our Lady of Hope in Pontmain, France). Bob Hope Memorial Garden.

Bob Hope Memorial Garden.

A towering, majestic pine tree in the Bob Hope Memorial Garden.

Bob Hope's final resting place. We had no idea that he was buried here prior to our visit to the mission. A beautiful and fitting memorial garden for this beloved funnyman, humanitarian and patriot. 
For more on the dedication of the Bob Hope Memorial Garden on August 23, 2005, go to: 

Bob Hope memorabilia in the Mission Workshops wing.

Floss Silk Trees (Ceiba speciosa). East Garden.
Monsignor Francis Weber describes these trees as follows in his book The California Missions: "The floss-silk trees at San Fernando Mission, introduced by Clarese Kroll in 1982 from the Huntington Library, are often referred to as "the single most spectacular flowering trees in the United States." Silk trees are natives of southern Brazil and Argentina and are called samohu by local Indians. They are truly breathtaking in the late summer when their bare branches are covered completely with pink flowers and green fruit."

One of the El Camino Real bells at the mission. There's a perky little Black Phoebe on the sign. These guys were out in force today, flycatching from every conceivable perch in the East Garden.

East Garden. The flower-shaped fountain was copied from an original in Cordova, Spain.


  1. Stopped in before class - beautiful photos.

  2. What beautiful pictures especially the snowy mountain framed by palm trees. I'm thinking today if you keep this all up I am have to rethink my lifelong aversion to visiting California. Apparently these is more too than crowded freeways and smog. :)

  3. Isn't this weather crazy? We even had snow here on Saturday in the early morning hours! Your first photo of palm trees and the San Gabriels, absolutely priceless, I love it! Made it down to 27 F the last two mornings here...I'm ready for some warmer palm tree weather!

    This is not a Mission I'm familiar with so thank you for sharing. The long portico is gorgeous, and I love all the arches throughout. Must be hard to look at the blooming bougainvillea after what the frost did to yours.

  4. Oh, so many things I love -- the bell, the black phoebe, the beamed ceiling.

    I visited this mission once, sometime in the early 90's, and still have a St Christopher's medal. I keep it on my necklace with dogtags from former dogs, and wear it when I need a whole lot of luck.

    I want a room that looks like your "museum" shot. So clean, so elegant. Thank you for the tour.

  5. These are seriously good photographs. So much to see in that mission and just like the others lovely architecture and lots of history to absorb. I have to say that the snowcapped mountains against that blue sky were lovely.

  6. Hi there,

    I enjoyed this so much. Love our nature.

    Just wanted to mention that I have good luck sprinkling flour on young deters rabbits etc. Caught your comment on another blog and looked you up.

    All spring joys to you,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  7. Funny--I was in Northridge on Sunday, not many miles away from where you were visiting! Yes, weren't the mountains amazing? And the air so clear? Days like that make you almost want to live in LA. It's striking to see a mission that ISN'T colored white on the outside. I wonder if the color is recent or if it's more historical. The long portico is really wonderful and surprisingly modern looking. A gorgeous building!

  8. Bandit, thanks for stopping by. Just checked out your blog - now that's some serious haiku!

    Troutbirder, don't be afraid of California - it's actually a great place to visit, especially if you love the great outdoors. And even LA has its inimitable charms!

    Clare, the weather has been crazy indeed! I'm hoping that our fruit trees won't be adversely affected, since many commenced flowering a bit early in the season. The bougainvillea look deadish, but hopefully it's just a cosmetic thing.

    altadenahiker, I never thought of wearing dogtags from former dogs for good luck, but it makes all the sense in the world - they brought us joy in life, so why not good luck after?

    Thanks, Rosie! The calm after the storm is always lovely, isn't it?

    Hi Sharon - that's a great tip, using flour on seedlings! I never would have thought of it, but I can imagine that bunnies, rodents & other browsers may not find the taste of flour very appetizing. I took a peek at your blog and love the photos of all the beautiful blooms in your garden in your last post (which I assume is in San Luis Obispo, not Maine). One of our favorite destinations is Morro Bay in SLO Cty - we've been trekking up there for the winter bird festival for the past few years - and have fond memories of Cambria whenever we venture northward up to Monterey. Just beautiful!

    James, you were in Northridge on Sunday? What a coincidence! The dim sum restaurant (A&W Seafood Restaurant) we ended up at was actually in Northridge, only a couple blocks from Cal State Northridge off of Reseda Blvd. It was a beautiful, though chilly, sunny blue-sky day. Don't know if the color of the mission is recent or historical, but I assume it's historical - my curiosity is piqued though, and I'd like to find out more.