Just before you reach the little town of Julian is the Santa Ysabel Asistencia Mission…..
Tucked away and treasured for almost 200 years.
On our last girls trip out, we stopped by for a visit.
The Santa Ysabel Asistencia Mission is small and well loved with
beautiful stained glass windows in the sanctuary…
And attached to the mission is a little museum.
(No docents at this museum, just a sign inviting you in and reminding you to close
the door so snakes don’t slither in….something we all appreciated!)
There’s a quaint little cemetery next to the mission…..
With historic as well as modern monuments…..
(That made me smile!)
And I’ll finish with a photo I captured of a photo hanging in their museum – showing the cemetery lit with candles on the evening of All Saints Day….wouldn’t that be amazing to see?
- 20 September 1818: Padre Fernando Martin blessed the spot for a capilla at Canada de Santa Ysabel. A temporary structure was then erected.
- 2 February 1819: Padre Vicente Sarria noted the presence of “a goodly number of baptized souls” and asked for permission to erect a permanent church.
- 1822: With permission granted, a church was erected and by this year a thriving community had been established.
- 1836: A report indicated that erosion has started to eat away at the foundations of several buildings, including the chapel.
- 7 May 1839: A report indicated thriving fields, two vineyards, an orchard, and animal stock. However, the erosion reported in 1836 continued.
- Santa Ysabel Bells1846: Erosion had so eaten away at the various buildings that the chapel was in ruins and all of the mud houses had effectively dissolved. A brush ramada served as a church whenever a visiting padre made their way back into the area. Two bells, bought by the Indians for six burro loads of barley hung in a frame as the only remains of the original chapel. The bells were among the oldest in California, dating from 1723 and 1767. (The picture here is an edited version of a picture from the museum. People were removed to highlight the bells.)
- 1899: A report from the period indicated that only the outlines of the church remained. Everything else had “sunk into indistinguishable heaps of earth.”
- 1924: The current building was dedicated as Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church.
- 1926: The original two bells from the chapel disappeared. A day later Jose Maria Osuna found the clappers (but kept them).
- 1959: The clappers to the bells were returned to the Chapel and are now in the museum. A statue of the “Angel of the Lost Bells” stands at the site now.
- 1963: The University of California discovered the site of the original buildings, then only “faintly visible under the pasture grass.”