Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

California Mission Pilgrimage - 7

California Mission Pilgrimage(7)

Day Eight: Easter Friday


Mission San Francisco de Asis

          The Mission in San Francisco, sometimes called Mission Dolores, is a great place, but to me, it is in the worst location.  Getting to the Mission is tough (especially when you are trying to make the morning Mass).  The traffic is difficult, and once you arrive, parking is even worse!  The Mission is located in a rather dirty part of San Francisco, and will probably require a fair amount of walking up the city’s hilly streets to get there.

          We did make it just in time for the morning Mass, and found that there were exactly four people attending Mass (not counting the priest).  We more than doubled the crowd (although another family came in a few minutes into the Mass.)  Still, the Mass was beautiful, as is the church, and the grounds are really very nice.  There is even an entrance to the adjacent new church, which is used for larger celebrations, such as Sunday Mass, for example.  We were just exploring that church when we had to leave for the sake of a funeral.  Another interesting experience at Mission San Francisco was that we had to tour the Mission grounds while avoiding a film crew that was working on some sort of documentary.

Inside the new, adjacent church

Mission San Rafael

          Finding your way out of the city from Mission San Francisco can be tough, but once you do, you’ll get to drive on the Golden Gate Bridge, which is a nice iconic experience if you haven’t done it before.  North of the city of San Francisco is another urban Mission, San Rafael.

          The small Mission chapel is located on the same grounds as the new church, like San Francisco.  The small chapel is beautiful, though, with nice angelic art.  There is a tiny corner in the gift shop with only a handful of artifacts, but the woman at the gift shop was very helpful, and this Mission is free to visit.


Mission San Francisco Solano

          Our final Mission was San Francisco Solano, the last Mission to be built, and the only one built under Mexican rule.  This is the other Mission that is a state park, not an active church.  One of the treats at this Mission is a room with watercolor paintings of all the Missions, created by Chris Jorgensen in about 1915.  There is a little more to see on the grounds, the chapel being the high point.  Down the street from the Mission is the soldiers’ barracks, which contains some really nice historical artifacts.

Again, watch out for secular bias.  For example, one of the workers made it a point to share how the Indians were not allowed in the cloister area, as if that was somehow terribly degrading to them.  Of course, any Catholic should know that a religious community needs some cloistered area, where the members can get away for prayer and community life, away from the world outside.

          One nice thing about this Mission is its location.  First of all, the drive to get there is through beautiful wine country vineyards.  The Mission is located right off a town square with a park in the middle and little cafes and shops along the edges.  It is also near other historical sites, such as the location of the original Bear Flag Revolt.

The Bear Flag, in the museum at the soldiers' barracks

The view of the Sonoma square from the balcony of the soldiers' barracks