San Juan, Bautista Mission

San Juan, Bautista, was founded in June 1797. Its church, now in ruins, was built in 180o. Its site is at San Benito, in a beautiful locality in that county, and on the road from Castroville to Gilroy. President Lasuen and Padre Martianena performed the usual ceremony of dedication. The original buildings were of wood, with pole roofs; but in the beginning of the next century erections of adobe, stone, and mortar, with massive walls and tile roofs, were substituted. The charming feature of this Mission was its numerous bells, with their sweetness and variety of tone, from treble of light weight to bass of several thousand pounds. Some old master, skilled in the art of music and the manufacture of bells, had so contrived the relation and intermingling of tones that they resulted in composing a chime of incomparable sweetness.

The bells were cast in Peru, nine of them in the series. Subsequently some of the bells were recast, but the secret of the relation of metals, temper, and tones was lost, and the charm was broken. The fame of these bells was greater than that of the Mission. The bells have disappeared, and the ruins only remain.

Return to: The Missions of California and the Old Southwest

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