It is known as "The Jewel of the Missions." And it is surely one of Orange County's most significant cultural and religious landmarks. Mission San Juan Capistrano, the seventh in a chain of 21 California missions under the leadership of Padre Junípero Serra, welcomes some 50,000 area students every year and countless more tourists exploring the mission's history.
It dates back to Nov. 1, 1776, which happens to be All Saints Day in the Catholic Church. It's remarkable that, at the same time, 13 former British colonies some 3,000 miles to the east were only months into having declared their independence from Great Britain. On the Pacific coast, which was under Spain's control, a Catholic priest and his staff, which included countless Native Americans, were spreading the faith in uncharted territory.
This summer the Mission Preservation Foundation is again throwing a series of summer concerts under the stars, welcoming Orange County patrons to a unique summer experience. The foundation, the mission's fundraising arm, recently announced that the mission's membership, known as the Preservation Society, has reached an all-time high mark of 10,000 active members supporting the goals to protect the Orange County landmark's religious and historic significance. The support comes from all sectors of society in Orange County, including Newport-Mesa. This past Saturday evening the third in the series of six concerts and picnic dinners unfolded in the mission's rose garden courtyard.