Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded on November 1, 1776. It celebrated 240 years on November 1, 2016!
When somebody hit the power pole down the street from my friend Veronika’s place of business, she took the opportunity to take a mental health day since they had no power in the office. She took her bike to the Mission in San Juan Capistrano… teasing me with the photos below.
Mission San Juan Capistrano was named after an Italian saint. St. Giovanni da Capistrano (John of Capistrano in English) was born in 1386. Through most of his early adult years, he lived a secular life outside the church. He attended law school, and became a magistrate, and then a governor over Perugia in 1416. Only a few years after becoming governor war broke out in his land. He was assigned as an ambassador of peace to Malatesta, but when he arrived, they threw him in prison. While he spent time in prison, he began to think more about spiritual matters.
Eventually, he decided to give up all material things, and surrender his life to serving God by joining the Franciscan Order. Upon taking the vows of service, John spent time learning theology and the art of preaching. After receiving his priesthood, he traveled all over Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia preaching forgiveness and penance. On his journeys, he preached to great crowds.
It was said that when John entered a town to preach all business stopped. The people of the community dropped all that they were doing to hear him speak. Catholic administers also highly valued John’s passion and energy in reforming the church. He was sent all over Europe by the Pope and other important leaders to continue positive changes.
While in Frankfurt, Germany in 1454, he was asked to give advice about the crusade against the Turks. Not only did he provided insight into the upcoming battle, he joined it! John accompanied the famous Hunyady throughout the campaign: he was present at the battle of Belgrade, and led the left wing of the Christian army against the Turks. Soon after battling the Turks, John caught the deadly bubonic plague and died on October 23, 1456. John was beatified in 1694, and canonized as a saint in 1724.
Mission San Juan Capistrano is known worldwide for the Cliff Swallows return each year. Father John O’Sullivan started the legend and celebration of the Cliff Swallows in the early 20th century. Cliff Swallows migrate from South America to North America in the spring and summer for breeding. Although San Juan’s legend claims these migrating birds return promptly on March 19th it is silly to assume this true. Cliff Swallows are wild animals and migrate according to weather patterns; therefore, do not always return the exact day each year.