CALIF: New light on the Missions

Front page of the San Francisco Chronicle:

"…Mendoza, director of the Institute for Archaeology at Cal State Monterey Bay, set out on a long research project - “a quest,” he calls it - that led him to believe the illuminations at [Mission] San Juan Bautista during the solstice were no accident of nature or some kind of miracle. He is convinced that the illumination of the altar at the solstice was the result of a deliberate design by the Spanish missionaries who built the mission building between 1803 and 1812…
The illumination at the Carmel [M]ission is particularly impressive…
One of the others is Mission Dolores in San Francisco, where Mendoza says the building is aligned so that the sunrise on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin…
Professor Ruben Mendoza says that there will be an illumination at sunrise on Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, at Mission Dolores at 3321 16th St. at Dolores Street.

But Andrew Galvan, curator of Mission Dolores , says he has not seen such an illumination. It is usually foggy in August, he says, and he is gently skeptical about Mendoza’s theory.

My sister who is not a Catholic and has lived in our foggy environs her whole life says of curator Galvan, “Phooey on his skepticism!”:slight_smile:

The twenty-one California Missions were built along the coast from the southern tip of what is now California (was then Mexico) to just north of San Francisco. As far as I know Mission history is still required study in CA public elementary schools, so there is a lot of material on line about them and they’re a popular road trip. “Largely reconstructed after the ravages of time , weather, earthquakes and neglect, most of the missions still operate as active Catholic parishes, with regularly scheduled services.”

(Anyone who saw “Vertigo” will well remember the cemetery at Mission Dolores as well as San Juan Bautista’s bell tower featured prominently in that film.:eek: )

I don’t know if this is Secular News or Catholic News…

Anyone here been present at these three Missions during the “illuminations”?

Well, it’s a good thing the mission in Carmel chose June for their “illumination.” While sun in June is still an iffy proposition, it is more likely than “Faugust.” I remember one Faugust when we lived there that the sun didn’t come out the whole month. :eek::stuck_out_tongue:


The Republic of Mexico did not exist until 1820 at which time 20 of the 21 Missions had already been established. Mission San Francisco de Solano (developed as a hospital) was founded in 1823 if memory serves.

FWIW, Galvan claims to be an Anglican “Fransican.” I have met both he and Dr. Mendoza at more than one Mission Studies event he’s not in Mendoza’s league – spritually or intellectually…

Very cool! I would love to be at one of these missions when the sun is shining directly on the altar. :smiley:

Hi OhMalley-

Thanks for your correction.

I have met both he and Dr. Mendoza at more than one Mission Studies event…

Is there a Mission Studies program/site you’d recommend for someone wanting to attend a good program about the Missions?

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