Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

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Monday, May 11, 2015

California Mission Pilgrimage - 4

California Mission Pilgrimage(4)

Day Five: Easter Tuesday


Mission San Miguel

          We woke up Tuesday to a rainy morning.  The lack of showers and the fact that I had to break camp in the rain meant we wouldn’t be making morning Mass at San Miguel.  This Mission is right off the highway, so we had seen it before.  We arrived while Mass was still in progress and before the office opened, so we drove to nearby Paso Robles and escaped the rain by parking in an outside car wash facility, in order to organize the van and change into dry clothes.

          Feeling a little fresher, we went back to San Miguel.  Having been there before, we did not tour the whole grounds, but we went into the church to pray.  The parish community there is always so warm and friendly.  There are also things to see in the front of the property and surrounding it.  Given its location to the highway and the prayerful setting, Mission San Miguel is a nice place to stop on any trip up the 101 for a brief opportunity for both history and prayer.

This bell tower at the back of the property is the view from the freeway exit.

Mission San Antonio

          San Antonio is one of the Missions I had not seen before this trip.  It is a ways off the freeway, and once again, the drive to get there is gorgeous.  To reach the actual Mission, you have to drive through an army base, which was a treat for the kids.  Then you reach a large property nestled under the mountains where the Mission is located.  Despite its rather remote location, Mission San Antonio is an active parish, for about 35 families.  Priests come in from Mission San Miguel on Sundays. 

          The beautiful location of this Mission gives it a quiet, peaceful feel.  There is also plenty to see on the property.  The Church, with the double façade is beautiful, as is the courtyard (though the church itself is currently under renovation).  People can actually make reservations to stay at this Mission.  It would definitely be a quiet if not somewhat scary (at night) place to make a personal retreat.

Mission San Antonio is currently undergoing renovation.
Driving through an army base to reach this Mission was a treat for our kids.

Nuestra Senora de la Soledad

          Our final Mission this day was the small Mission Soledad.  Like so many of the Missions in the middle, Soledad is in a beautiful location, and it is not far off the highway.  The chapel at this Mission is quite small and we were blessed to be able to pray with a group of Sisters when we were there.  There is a small gift shop and museum area, and there are a few ruins on the property.  One treat about Mission Soledad is that there is no charge to visit any of the parts of the Mission, and we also learned that if we returned with a fully stamped Mission passport, having visited all 21, we could receive a free pin at Mission Soledad.

          In fact, the woman at the gift shop told me an interesting story.  She said that there was a biker club that had made up its own version of the Mission passport.  Bikers would frequently visit them at the Mission and present their passports to be stamped.

          From Soledad, we took another stunningly beautiful drive to reach Carmel, the site of Mission San Carlos Borromeo.  We stopped by the Mission before going to our motel, just to see where it was, and it was good that we did, because we got to visit the Blessed Sacrament chapel, which was open and is often used for daily Mass, but which would be closed when we visited the following day.  Another neat thing we saw that night, in Monterey, was a stone cross set up to mark the place where Sebastian Vizcaino first set up a cross in Monterey in 1602, when he first discovered the bay there.

The marker where Vizcaino placed the first cross in Monterey