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Mission San Fernando Review


The Mission is located at 15151 San Fernanado Mission Blvd in Mission Hills right near where the 405, the 118 and the 5 freeways intersect in the north San Fernando Valley.   There is free parking and the admission price is as follows: Adults: $4, Children ages 7-11 are $3 and children under age 7 are free. The mission is open daily from 9 am-4:30 pm and there is mass on Sunday at 9 and 10:30 am.

 

Just about everyone, myself included, who grew up in California remembers studying the California missions in 4th grade.   For those of you that are not California natives, there was a system of Missions established by the Spanish throughout California.  This mission was founded on September 8, 1797 by Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuén and was the 17th mission in what was to be 21 total. The mission, after going through some tough times with earthquakes and gold prospectors has been restored and is just beautiful and well-maintained by landscapers. There is a lot to see here, a lot more than we thought there was going to be and we all really enjoyed the experience.


After entering through the gift shop and paying for admission you will be handed a map and guide to the grounds. There is a recommended order through which to proceed on a self-guided tour. Logan just loved looking at the map and kept asking me what number we were on and where we were going next. i thought it was very organized and easy for us to follow.

 

In the mission museum, your family will learn about the pottery, clothing, food and trade items of the time when he mission was first founded. Much of what you will see at the mission is not only indicative of the cultural heritage of the Spanish Settlers, but also of the interaction with the native population of the region.

 

In the convento, which took 13 years to build, you will at first marvel at the beautiful architecture with the 21 roman arches, four adobe walls and original iron grilles. There were so many artifacts here and each room was large and comfortable so we all had a chance to roam throughout the building.This used to be the padre's house and also a guest home.  A huge organ was in one room.  This organ had a description next to it saying that it is believed to be the oldest remaining organ in North America.  When you see it, you will have no doubt about this claim.   There was a great representation of a guest room in another (I got the where was there bathroom question here!) and also a library with hundreds of old books lining the shelves.  We showed our children how all the books were written in Spanish since they are currently studying Spanish in school.  


One very interesting room was called the Madonna room. There were hundreds of statues, paintings and other depictions of the Blessed Mother.  It is an interesting room that literally turned on when we arrived in it with gentle music and lighting.. We stayed here a while, deciding which were our favorites. Another room in the convento showed what foods were eaten at the different meals and the tools used to make the meals. We also saw the room used to hang the meats. It's important to note here that in its peak year, in 1819, the mission had almost 13,000 head of cattle, which were a major source of food and revenue. The mission also had a large number of sheep, (an average of 5,000 in its peak years).

 

Stepping inside the Old Mission Church you will see an exact replica of the earlier church created in 1806. At the time when the mission was first created, the elaborate altar and pulpit were carved from walnut and dated to 1687.  They were originally installed in a chapel in Spain, and reassembled at the mission. I have to say that the atmosphere of the chapel was conducive to my kids being quiet and respectful.


Behind the church you'll find a delightful water fall and then you'll proceed through a gate to the cemetery and the Bob Hope Memorial Garden. In addition to the early settlers, this cemetery has the tombs and what is stated as the earthly remains of Bob Hope.  The garden was inaugurated in 2005 by Cardinal Roger Mahoney. This is a significant part of the mission and a great excuse to teach your kids about Bob Hope.   On a side note, I assume that Bob Hope must have been a great member of the Catholic Church since he was given the honor of being laid to rest in such a significant place.

 

In the quadrangle in front of the church you'll note the huge bell at the top of the church building, the flower-shaped water fountain and the rare trees and seasonal flowers.

 

Our last stop on the tour was at the workshops. These rooms will show your kids how the missionaries and settlers created pottery, saddles, blacksmithing and carpentry at the turn of the 19th century.  There is Bob Hope memorabilia in this area.


Upon leaving there is a gift shop that has something special for you to take home no matter what your budget or religious beliefs.  We bought a magnet.

Both Madison and Logan not only want to take their cousins to see this mission, but it has also made them interested in seeing other California missions.