The Mission's website says this. "Mission San Juan Capistrano has been home to many people over its 240 years of history. Its history consists of memories and stories of its past inhabitants and present visitors. It is a place of historical, cultural, and religious significance, as well as a place of inspiration and education." Mission San Juan Capistrano was permanently founded by Junipero Serra on November 1, 1776, as the seventh of 21 missions to be established in California by the Spanish. It has a long history, too long for me to tell you about here, but one that's well-worth reading.
The cliff swallows that made the mission famous, depart Capistrano on the 23rd of October each year and fly 6,000 miles south to Goya, Corrientes, Argentina where they spend their winters. The birds arrive back at the mission on or about the 19th of March each year. And when the beloved birds do arrive, they are greeted by crowds of locals and tourists from around the globe. The mission bells ring to signal their arrival and say "Welcome back" to the swallows. Once the birds are safely home, a huge fiesta takes place. These swallows are a huge deal to the community of San Juan Capistrano is southern California. And rightfully so!
I wondered how the swallows happened to pick the mission to be their summer home and so I dug a little into the history and found the charming legend that tells their story of how the birds came to call the mission their home.
Father Sullivan who was the pastor at the mission from 1910 to 1933 tells the story in his book, Capistrano Nights. "One day, while walking through town, Father O’Sullivan saw a shopkeeper, broomstick in hand, knocking down the conically shaped mud swallow nests that were under the eaves of his shop. The birds were darting back and forth through the air squealing over the destruction of their homes.
'What in the world are you doing?' O’Sullivan asked. 'Why, these dirty birds are a nuisance and I am getting rid of them!' the shopkeeper responded.
'But where can they go?'
'I don’t know and I don’t care,' he replied, slashing away with his pole. 'But they’ve no business here, destroying my property.'
Father O’Sullivan then said, 'Come on swallows, I’ll give you shelter. Come to the Mission. There’s room enough there for all.'
The very next morning, Father O’Sullivan discovered the swallows busy building their nests outside Father Junípero Serra’s Church." And there they've made their home there ever since.
Ahhh....the kindness of strangers. We never know where help will come from when we need it most, do we?
Don't forget. Tomorrow is Wednesday and that means another valuable life lesson from my dear friend and wise teacher, The Dharma Frog. I know you won't want to miss that!
Until then, my dear reader, enjoy your Tuesday.