Saturday, December 14, 2019

Feast of Saint Lucia

  Today I had the opportunity to attend my very first Saint Lucia breakfast.  I know only a little of Saint Lucia, and while I had heard that it can be celebrated by both Lutheran and Anglican, I have never know anyone who actually did participate in this Swedish Christmas tradition.  Saint Lucia was an early Christian martyr  whom legend says would secretly bring food to the early Christians hiding in the catacombs  of Rome.  She would wear a crown of candles on her head to light her way and keep her hands free to carry what she had to share.  Lucia means light and her feast day is celebrated in Sweden on December 13, one of the shortest days of the year.

We were greeted at the door by the daughter of the house dressed as Saint Lucia.  The white robe is supposed to represent baptism and the red sash is for the blood of the martyrs. 

Our hostess shared lots of delicious food for everyone to enjoy.

 Later in the morning our Saint Lucia wore actual lighted candles on her head as she moved around the room.  Brave girl!

As our morning came to an end we were each given a hand-made Christmas ornament which I promptly took home and hung on my tree!

 The light of Lucia in the middle of Advent is supposed to be a reflection of the great light of Christ which enters the world on Christmas Day. Such a lovely reminder.

"Hear us Oh God our salvation as we rejoice on the feast of Saint Lucy, thy virgin and martyr, and grant us to learn the spirit of pious devotion." Amen.


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Mission San Juan Capistrano

While we were hanging out in the North San Diego County area  for a few days we decided to take a drive up the coast to see the Mission San Juan Capistrano.  Built in 1776, it was the 7th of 21 missions built up and down California and one of the nine missions originally founded by Father Junipero Serra.  We spent a wonderful afternoon exploring the grounds of this cultural and historic Spanish landmark.

Entering into the courtyard.

The wall on the right is the oldest part of the mission grounds.  Some of the old walls have been shored up with posts.

The Inspector and I did a little posing in front of the many beautiful fountains throughout the grounds.

It was interesting to note that while the exterior walkways were high and arched, the interior doorways were so low we had duck our heads to get from room to room.


The walls you see rising in the background are part of the original stone church.

 Work began on the "Great Stone Church" in 1797 and was completed in 1806.  It was built in the shape of a cross with 50 foot high walls and a 70 foot bell tower.  Legends say the tower could be seen for 10 miles.  Tragically, on December 8, 1812, just 6 years after the church was completed a massive earthquake struck Southern California and brought the church crashing down.  Forty worshipers were crushed in the rubble and the church was never rebuilt.  The ruins of the old church still remain.

 A bell wall was built between the ruins of the stone church and the original mission chapel to hold the bells which were salvaged from the ruins.  The two large bells you now see are reproductions.  The two smaller ones are original.

These are the two large original bells.

Inside Father Serra's original chapel.  The gold "tableau" was added in the early 20th century when the church was renovated.

While the Eucharist is still performed in this chapel, a new and much larger basilica has been built on the grounds.  You can see the dome of that church rising behind the old walls.  We were unable to visit the inside of that church as there was a wedding taking place at the time but we did get to hear the bells ring. Beautiful!  You can see the inside of the basilica, learn the history of the bells and hear them ring here

Of course, no trip to San Juan Capistrano would be complete without mentioning the swallows.  Every year a large festival takes place on St Joseph's Day in March to celebrate the return of the swallows to the mission.   After wintering in Argentina the birds will make the 6,000 mile journey back to San Juan Capistrano where they will make their homes in the eaves of the old walls.  The swallows had already left for the winter but we could still see the mud nests.

 We always enjoy a visit to one of the Californian missions.  I hope you enjoyed our little tour.  May the Lord richly bless you wherever you are this day.  Adieu!