Mission Church/Checking In

Been busy and a bit under the weather. Checking back in.

Today, the Concord Queen of All Saints Feast and Faith group took a field trip to Mission Dolores in San Francisco for Mass, a tour of the old adobe mission chapel and lunch. There were 13 of us. It was fun and educational, and it’s always a blessing to be able to say a few prayers in a church you are visiting.

Mision San Francisco de Assis was the sixth mission founded by St. Junipero Serra. In October 9, 1776, the official documents arrived establishing the mission, but Mass had already been celebrated at the site on June 29, so, in a sense, the mission is 5 days older than America. From a very early date, the Mission was called Mission Dolores after an adjacent creek named Arroyo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores. I imagine St. Francis would be amused by this, and wholeheartedly approve.

Originally, the mission comprised a fairly vast area, with 10,000 head of cattle, 10,000 sheep, many horses, etc., as well as workshops, farms and gardens. In a very real sense, it was San Francisco. Several thousand native Americans lived and worked there. Following Mexican independence, in 1834 the missions were ‘secularized’ meaning, in effect, that all their lands except that upon which stood the church buildings and cemeteries were seized by the Mexican government and given to private citizens. This impoverished the mission and lead to a decades long decline. By 1842, only a few Indians lived at the mission, and what remained of the building fell into serious disrepair.

Mission Dolores in the early 1850's in San Francisco.
By the 1850s, it looked like this. 

Then statehood and the Gold Rush brought a flood of people to the Bay, including many Irish and other Catholics. A new parish church in a Gothic Revival style was built adjacent to the old mission chapel to handle the crowds. The old adobe was clad in clapboard, for both aesthetic (it was looking pretty ratty, as the above picture illustrates) and protective reasons.

The 1906 earthquake destroyed the large brick church but left the adobe intact and largely undamaged. In the following dozen years, a new Mission revival style church was built to replace the destroyed brick church and the old mission was carefully restored. Today, the majority of parish activities take place in the new (only 100 years old!) Basilica, while the old chapel is used for one mass a week and is otherwise mostly a tourist attraction. But they do a very respectful job.

A cemetery used to occupy acres around the old church, with about 11,000 people buried there from the 1790s up into the late 1800s. As the streets were put through and land became more dear, the cemetery shrank and the remains moved until, today, only a tiny plot on the south side of the old mission chapel remains. A quick look at the tombstones that remain reveals many names that now grace San Francisco streets and landmarks.

Also adding to the holiness of the place: two saints (at least) have prayed there: St. Junipero Serra celebrated mass while it was under construction, and Pope St. John Paul the Great stopped by to pray when he visited San Francisco.

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The reredos and sanctuary. Note the ceiling, painted in a pattern used by the Ohlone in their basket weaving. 
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Top center: St. Michael guards the place. As well he should. 

Finally, we went to lunch at the Kitchen Story just up the street on 16th. Highly recommended.

 

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

4 thoughts on “Mission Church/Checking In”

    1. When people describe themselves as utilitarians, I find it generally means they can’t do or don’t care about philosophy in the sense of *why* people do things. The writer states in his bio that he’s really really smart, giving his IQ as 3 standard deviations above average.

      So: we have a smart guy who knows (and wants the world to know) he’s a smart guy, who probably doesn’t get philosophy after the manner of how Sagan and deGrasse-Tyson don’t get philosophy, arguing that education’s value is in getting people jobs (utilitarianism).

      Then he’s huge into referencing modern education theorists and historians while failing to mention the pioneers who set the goals and methods. Modern historians of education, being products of and working in the education establishment have little interest in disputing the story as he tells it.

      His ‘Americans have always loved public education’ story is part fantasy part propaganda. What Americans have always loved is about the opposite of what we mean by education today.

      Anyway, I’ll read more on his blog and maybe respond with a post. Thanks for pointing this out.

      1. You may or more not remember Ed from a…couple years?…ago on my blog. His website is great, extremely informative, but the incident was a classic case of “Don’t meet your heroes”.

        He has all the hallmarks of the halfway there – knowing something is wrong, but when faced with what exactly that is he can’t handle it and so blinks and looks away. It’s frustrating to see because so much of what he writes is good and interesting.

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