"Mission San Fernando Rey de España is a Spanish mission in the Mission Hills district of Los Angeles, California," according to Wikipedia. "The mission was founded on September 8, 1797, and was the seventeenth of the twenty-one Spanish missions established in Alta California. Named for Saint Ferdinand, the mission is the namesake of the nearby city of San Fernando and the San Fernando Valley.
"The mission was secularized in 1834 and returned to the Catholic Church in 1861; it became a working church in 1920. Today the mission grounds function as a museum; the church is a chapel of ease of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
"In 1769, the Spanish Portola expedition, first Europeans to see inland areas of California, traveled north through the San Fernando Valley on August 7 and camped at a watering place near where the mission was later established. Fray Juan Crespi, a Franciscan missionary travelling with the expedition, noted in his diary that the camp was 'at the foot of the mountains'.
"Mission San Fernando Rey de España was founded on September 8, 1797 by Father Fermín Lasuén, making it the fourth mission site he had established in as many months. The prime location the padre selected had been occupied by Francisco Reyes (then Los Angeles' mayor). However, after brief negotiations construction of the first buildings was soon underway (Mission records list Reyes as godfather to the first infant baptized at San Fernando).
"The goals of the missions were, first, to spread the message of Christianity and, second, to establish a Spanish colony. Because of the difficulty of delivering supplies by sea, the missions had to become self-sufficient in relatively short order. Toward that end, neophytes were taught European-style farming, animal husbandry, mechanical arts and domestic crafts.
"Bells were vitally important to daily life at any mission. The bells were rung at mealtimes, to call the Mission residents to work and to religious services, during births and funerals, to signal the approach of a ship or returning missionary, and at other times; novices were instructed in the intricate rituals associated with the ringing the mission bell.
"A hundred-pound bell was unearthed in an orange grove near the Mission in 1920. It carried the following inscription (translated from Russian): "In the Year 1796, in the month of January, this bell was cast on the Island of Kodiak by the blessing of Archimandrite Joaseph, during the sojourn of Alexsandr Baranov." It is not known how this Russian Orthodox artifact from Kodiak, Alaska made its way to a Catholic mission in Southern California.
"In 1842, six years before the California Gold Rush, a brother of the mission mayordomo (foreman) made the first Alta California gold discovery in the foothills near the mission. In memory of that discovery, the place was given the name Placerita Canyon, but only small quantities of gold were found.
"In 1845, Governor Pío Pico declared the Mission buildings for sale and, in 1846, made Mission San Fernando Rey de España his headquarters as Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando.
"The Mission was utilized in a number of ways during the late 19th century: north of the mission was the site of Lopez Station for the Butterfield Stage Lines; it served as a warehouse for the Porter Land and Water Company; and in 1896, the quadrangle was used as a hog farm.
"In 1861 the Mission buildings and 75 acres of land were returned to the church, after Charles Fletcher Lummis acted for preservation. The buildings were disintegrating, as beams, tiles and nails were taken from the church by settlers.San Fernando's church became a working church again in 1923 when the Oblate priests arrived.
"Many attempts were made to restore the old Mission from the early 20th century, but it was not until the Hearst Foundation gave a large gift of money in the 1940s, that the Mission was finally restored. The museum became the repository for heirlooms of the Mexican church evacuated during the Cristero revolt, and also holds part of the Doheny library.
"The 1971 San Fernando earthquake damaged the church, which had to be completely rebuilt, with the repairs completed in 1974. It continues to be very well cared for and is still used as a chapel-of-ease. In 2003 comedian Bob Hope was interred in the Bob Hope Memorial Gardens."
Category:Architecture and Structures
Keywords:Bay Area Backroads, Bob Hope, Bob Hope Memorial Gardens, California Missions, Father Serra, Glenn Franco Simmons, Mission San Fernando, Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana, Mission San Fernando Rey de España
© Glenn Thomas Franco Simmons