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Monday, October 29, 2018
The 6 Missions of Northern California: A Pictorial Guide for Catholics
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No trip to California would be complete without a visit to its founding missions (21 in all) that span the West Coast.  And while travelers to Southern California often think to visit the missions that span from around Los Angeles and down to San Diego, fewer travelers seem to think of the Northern California Missions.

This summer I set out to visit the missions of Northern California.   And rather than focus on the historical importance of these missions, their role in the lives of the natives, or their history, I set out to experience the Catholic sentiments from these missions.  My journey was not one done as a historian but one performed as a pilgrim.  I encourage you to visit the California missions and not simply contemplate the souls who passed through the doors but to stop and pray.  Thank God for the missions.  Thank God for giving us the Catholic Faith.  And spend some moments in praying for the conversion of sinners and reparation for sin.

As a final note, all photographs are mine and copyrighted by this blog.  Please see Flickr for more images.  Please feel free to share if you attribute the image appropriately.

Mission San Rafael

If you are coming from San Francisco, this Mission is just a short car ride north after going over the famous Golden Gate Bridge.  The mission is smaller than others and features both the mission church (which was rebuilt after the period of secularism by the Mexican Government and after an earthquake) along with a beautiful new Church.  Unlike some of the other missions, there was no entry fee or museum to tour.  Yet, I still stopped to pray for the souls up in Marin County.

Interestingly, for those unfamiliar with the history of this mission, it was a place for the sick to go since the weather up here is so much sunnier and brighter than down in San Francisco.  May we say a short prayer to Our Lady, Refuge of the Sick, and St. Raphael for the souls of the sick and suffering.

The Old Mission Church.  Inside was a Mass being said in Spanish.


The New Church Building. An English Mass was being said in here.

Inside the Old Mission.

Mission Dolores (San Francisco de Asis)

Where did the city of San Francisco (St. Francis) get its name?  It was from the Mission of San Francisco in what is now known as the "Mission District" of the city.  The mission features the original mission church as well as a new, larger basilica.  Inside the basilica are stained glass windows - one to honor each of the California missions.  The stained glass was enchanting and worth the visit alone.  Spend some time here and praying for the intercession of all of these heavenly patrons for the conversion of so many souls lost in sin in San Francisco and California.

The New Basilica


Lord, have mercy on the poor souls!


Inside the original mission


The stained glass was stunning


Mission San Jose

While a short distance from San Jose, the Mission of San Jose is actually located east of the Bay in the city of Fremont.  The mission entrance is actually in the gift shop and there is a nice museum on the right.  Through the left of the gift shop, visit the actual mission church and the cemetery.

The church is beautiful and inside are some truly amazing relics.  You need to come here and kneel down and thank God for His love and His charity for us.  This is not a mission to skip!

Inside this nail is said to contain filings from a nail of the True Cross of Jesus Christ




 Included in this altar are relics of the Roman martyrs and a nail said to contain within its hollow center filings from a nail of the True Cross of Jesus Christ.




Mission Santa Clara

Of the 21 California Missions, Mission Santa Clara is quite convincingly the most well kept of them all since it is on the campus of Santa Clara University, which is run by the Jesuits.  The mission honors St. Clara and was the first California mission constructed to honor a female saint.





Inside the mission of Santa Clara is the tomb and the story of a remarkably holy man: Father Magín Catalá. In particular, the beautiful Crucifix shown above is the miraculous Crucifix in front of which Father would pray and be seen levitating from the ground by witnesses who have sworn under oath to this miracle's authenticity. Father Catalá lived a heroic life of sanctity. As stated in a pamphlet from the Mission: "[He] fasted every day of the year, tasting nothing until noon and then allowing himself but a little milk and cornbread. He never ate flesh, meat, eggs, or fish."  Join me in the prayer for his canonization.

And for more images from these travels, see my Flickr Albums.

Mission San Francisco Solano

Mission San Francisco Solano is often forgotten as it was the 21st and the final mission in Alta, California.  It also has the distinction of being the most northern mission (it is located in Sonoma, CA which is north of San Francisco), and it is the only mission to be built after Mexico gained independence from Spain.  This change led to many of the missions being secularized and the atheistic government in Mexico to persecute the Church.





Mission San Carlos Borromeo (Carmel Mission)

Last, but certainly not least, is the true spiritual heart of the Missions: the Carmel Mission.  It is here that the body of St. Junipero Serra rests before the main altar where he is buried.  It is also here at this mission where you can find the Caravaca Cross, the personal reliquary cross of St. Junipero Serra, as well as the oldest European styled state of our Lady brought to Carmel by St. Serra - Our Lady of Bethlehem Statue.

I had the grace to be able to visit this Mission, watch a 15-minute video documentary of St. Serra, pray before his tomb, and tour the museum.  Outside the Mission in the city of Carmel was obscene amounts of wealth - Lamborghini, Bugatti, and other luxury cars were in town for a major international luxury car show.  In contrast, before me rested the body of a poor Franciscan who had no possessions and yet who possesses now in Heaven the beatific vision and eternal bliss.

St. Junipero Serra, pray for us!







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