Monday, June 10, 2013

Mission San Jose revisited

I began this blog with two posts about Mission San Jose.  The restoration work being done on the side of the chapel is finished, so I want to add some additional photographs here.

The Rose Window
There is a lot of folklore associated with this beautifully carved window, but it is because the origins of the window are not really known.  It is popularly attributed to Pedro Huizar, a sculptor and surveyor, who was said to have created the window in honor of a sweetheart named Rosa who died at sea on her way to Pedro. However, there are no records to indicate any truth to the tragic tale.  Huizar did perform a survey of San Jose and several other missions as they were being secularized. The window is thought to have been crafted by native craftsmen who trained at the Franciscan college in Zacatecas and dedicated to Santa Rosa of Lima, Peru.

Detail of roses on window
The intricate design of the window shows why San Jose has the title "Queen of the Missions".  In his journal, Fray Juan Agustín Morfí described the mission as being:
"It is, in truth, the first mission in America . . . in point of beauty, plan, and strength . . . there is not a presidio along the entire frontier line that can compare with it."  (from

The mission was built of limestone which gave it durability.  It is estimated that what is seen of the chapel today is 80% original even with the collapse of the bell tower in 1903 and the dome in 1873.

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