Mission San Juan Capistrano

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Mission San Juan Capistrano was named in honor of Saint John of Capestrano. He was born in Italy and after becoming a priest in 1416, he was sent by Roman Catholic Church officials to preach throughout Europe. When he was 70 years old, he led a Christian army to the Holy Lands in a war against the Turks. His army won the battle the following year. In 1724, John of Capestrano was named a saint, an honor given by the Catholics to those who have devoted their lives to God by doing good works. Mission San Juan Capistrano has the honor of being the 7th in the chain of missions to be founded by Junipero Serra in 1776. The site had been chosen because it was roughly half way between the mission of San Diego to the south and San Gabriel to the north. Mission San Juan Capistrano is located by the Dana Point harbor. Most missions were built close to harbors so that they could trade the goods manufactured at the mission to ships in the harbor. Many men played important roles in establishing the mission system in Alta California. Among them were Fray Junipero Serra and Fray Fermin Francisco de Lasuen. Fray Serra was the president of the Alta California mission chain at the time of the founding of Mission San Juan Capistrano. He believed so strongly in the Catholic faith that he became a missionary in order to teach others about it. Serra was chosen by the Roman Catholic Church officials to be the mission resident of Alta California. Serra founded 9 missions in Alta California. As president, he traveled to the missions on occasion to check on their progress, help the missionaries and work with the Indians. Fray Lasuen came to Alta California after Serra founded the first missions. He worked with Serra to establish others, including Mission San Juan Capistrano. After Serra’s death, Lasuen was chosen to head the mission chain. During the years of 1785 and 1803, he founded 9 missions and encouraged the Spanish friars to teach new work methods. He made many...
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