Mission San Juan Capistrano is the 7th of the California missions and was founded in 1776. Friar Junipero Serra was commissioned by Spain to teach Christianity to the native people. Children of California learn about the California missions as part of their California History class, usually in 4th grade. Typically they are assigned a mission project. Individual children, or groups of children, study a particular mission and write a report. Most of the time they also build a miniature version of their mission. When I was in 4th grade, we usually built our missions out of sugar cubes and then painting them the color of adobe (a mud material used in the building of many of the missions). Today, children can go to craft stores and purchase styrofoam versions of their mission to assemble and paint.
The San Juan Capistrano mission is possibly most know for the return of the swallows every year around March 19th (the feast of St. Joseph). Similar to the Ground Hog emerging to tell us if we are in for a longer winter, or if spring is on the way... the swallows herald the beginning of Spring as they arrive at the mission on (or around) March 19th.
Caption: The central courtyard of the Mission San Juan Capistrano was once a place of colorful community events and activities. This courtyard is large, and is surrounded by structures on all four sides. Photo © Tim Sumner
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