Sat, Apr 13 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Peña
Last week we closed with the assertion that the Missions of Santa Ines and San Fernando were two that could be my favorites. I think I was musing more on emotion, they being the most recent that I had seen.
Actually I think I could find a “favorite” in almost any one of the 21 in which I had spent some time.
San Fernando — along with San Gabriel the Archangel — were the two that I visited for the first time. And after touring the grounds I would have to say it is impressive. For one thing it is the burying site for couple of noted people, Bob and Dolores Hope. There is an inscription nearby that says that shortly before Bob died Dolores asked him if he had any preference as to where he should be buried. Bob quipped back, “Surprise me!”
I am sure that Bob would be pleased. The surroundings are incomparable. In acreage, I suspect, it would bypass all the others.
It was built and founded by Father Fermin Lasuen, a disciple of Father Serra. The year of its dedication was 1797.
It is surmised that the location of any of the missions depended on a number of factors. You might recall that the missions had to be within one day walking distance from one another. We also learn that the missions had to be near the coast so that ships from other nations, plying the coast of California, could stop by for trading. Other factors were that fresh water had to be nearby and mature trees for use in building should be plentiful. San Fernando had all of these.
This mission was built on land already occupied though its ownership raised some type of questions. The owner was Don Francisco Reyes, the alcalde of the Pueblo of Los Angeles. Reyes, however, was ousted and his small quarters were used by the priests while other buildings on the site took shape.
Today those buildings are numerous. I settled on a bench overlooking the entire rectangle and marveled at the peace and tranquility of the area. Touring the church area, with its many statues and other works of art much of it dating back to the original mission had sort of tired me out.
In the 200 years or so of its existence things were not always that calm. The mission had been erected and destroyed many times through earthquakes, marauding groups, secularization by the Mexican government and other setbacks.
But there it was and we marvel at the tenacity and perseverance of those before us leaving a legacy that is incomparable.
We had not intended to see Santa Ines but since our itinerary took us to Buellton, a very short distance from Solvang, we had to go there. On that afternoon there was a wedding taking place in the church so we had to wait for our tour.
The wedding party came out and they used the spacious grounds for photography, images that, I would suspect, would grace many a home. We spoke with members of the party and then went into the church that was being prepared by a couple of young ladies for the upcoming Holy Week and then Easter.
Santa Ines was founded by Father Estevan Tapis a few years after the founding of San Fernando. It had a rough start. The Indian population at the mission revolted against the rough treatment they received from the army population. Many of the buildings in the mission suffered major damage and it was some years before they were restored.
All in all, son David tells me, we put about 1500 miles on the rental car. The countryside, particularly at this time of year, is breathtaking. The fields of green are interrupted by fields of yellow mustard painting a picture that would do justice to any landscaper.
We also saw much livestock, particularly brown cows that were of the dairy variety. It reminded me of an experience of many years ago.
That one will have to wait for another time. Right now we are still absorbing the missions.
© 2009 The Star-News