Hollywood Walk of Fame

Day Four- The Mission

 

 

 

 

  

Picture by SueZZZ

 

As Mission San Luis Rey is quite a ways south of Los Angeles, we set out somewhat early.  That would not do us any good, though, as it seemed that everyone else in Los Angeles had the same idea.  However, what could be more pleasant than to be stuck in traffic with friends from the list.  Paddie and Ellie were great and the time seemed to flow ever so quickly.  As we drove up to the mission, a warm feeling came over me.  Not just because of the fact that I recognized the place from the episodes of Zorro, but for something else.  It is a feeling that comes over me whenever I go to a place where people have experienced joy, peace, sorrow, feelings of faith and love, where loved ones have been married, buried and where they have professed their beliefs.  And there has been great deal of history at that place, turmoil as well as triumph.   Now that may sound silly, but this was a place that enveloped you in peace and comfort.  Maybe that is why those episodes are some of my favorite ones.  That feeling comes through even on the screen.  We were met by several people who work at the mission and I realized that we were not just tourists, but we were special guests, to be treated to a unique tour of this historic site.   Forgotten was the long wait on the freeways, the lack of breakfast or lunch, or any other perceived inconvenience.   The people who were there to greet us didn't charge us admission, even though they need every penny they can get to keep the mission up, and to renovate.  (I was told later that a list member had paid for the excursion.  Thanks beyond measure.)
They let us into places that were not shown to the general public and they gave us tidbits of history that were not included in the regular tours.

 

In the back.  Retreat area.

 

Don't know what I expected from the head priest of the Mission San Luis Rey, but it wasn't someone who reminded me of Friar Tuck.  Father Ben Innes, OFM was a wonderful host and tour guide.

Michael Panvini under the famous pepper tree.

 

 

Father Ben--- what can I say?  Father Ben is dedicated to the memory of the mission, to its preservation, to keeping it available for future generations.  He spoke lovingly of the buildings, of those who come to feel of its peaceful settings and he treated us with such respect and kindness.  While we were at the pepper tree, he called upon Jill to tell the story of the 'Ghost of the Mission,' and he answered all questions about the shooting of the series there as well as questions about the mission in general. (And as an aside, there was a film crew taping during our tour, which sometimes made me uncomfortable, but which I forgot most of the time.)
As the pepper tree looked so very fragile, I asked Father Ben if Guy (and/or Buddy) actually was up in the tree or if a prop had been built.  From my remembrance of the episode, I felt it was that tree.  Father Ben said that the tree was in much better shape forty years ago.  He also said that the pepper tree was the original and all other pepper trees in the state 'sprang' from that one.  Father Ben showed us the buildings where the priests lived, including himself, and where visitors stayed who came on retreats.  (And I can certainly see why one would want to do that.  The peaceful feeling stayed with me during the entire visit.)   We were taken through a small museum where we were shown a door that had been build and used in the show and that he had rescued a few years before.

 

It was hard to get an adequate picture of this beautiful chapel. 

 

Then we were taken into the chapel.  It is not a huge church, but it has vaulted ceilings that made it seem bigger.  There were many statues, one of Christ, which was very graphic in its depiction of the suffering of Jesus on the cross.  There was a statue of the virgin Mary and of the man after whom the church was named, King Louis IX, King of France.  Wooden pews sat serenely from the front all the way to the back.  There was so much that was recognizable from the episodes filmed there, but as someone pointed out, it seemed as though there were some scenes in the show that might have been reconstructed in the studio, just subtle differences.
Next we were taken to the bell tower which was also the way to the organ loft.  While there, several of us, including yours truly, attempted to ring the large bell with the bell rope.  Needless to say I was not one of the ones who was lifted off her feet, but I was embarrassed that it took a great deal of time for me to get the bell to ring.   And it was awesome just standing there and looking over the chapel.                

 

Detail of part of the chapel.  I believe this was by SueZZZ. 

 

We were taken to the baptistery on one side of the back of the chapel and then near the entrance to the bell tower there was a little room where there were candles that could be lit in memory of loved ones.  I was a bit behind the group and only SueZZZ  was there, but we felt compelled light a candle for Guy.  It is Guy, after all, that made all these friendships possible.  It was an emotional moment and I felt his presence and his feelings of gratitude.  I felt deep gratitude for being there myself.  Out the door was the cemetery.  It was much larger than what we saw in the episodes, but Father Ben explained who was buried there and in which sections.  He described the section that he called the gravesite 'of the Innocents,' that place where the little children and babies were buried.
I am probably getting my sequence mixed up, but forgive me, as I try to remember all the wonderful things that I saw and the feelings that I felt.  We were led through a door outside and saw a skull and bones carving above the door. 

 

The baptistery.  It is on the left just inside the chapel door.

 

 

 A lovely picture of the bell tower, courtesy of Ellie de Mol.  You can almost see Zorro climbing down from there. 

Another great shot from Ellie.  Just as they had in the Golondrina, Guy, jr. and Wendell put on a marvelous show.

 

   

 

We were led back to the "Zorro Arch" on the other side of the chapel where lo and behold, Guy jr. and Wendell were there in full regalia.  BarBara Luna was there too, but mostly in the capacity of videographer.  Guy and Wendell put on another show, first under the pepper tree and then near the arch, which I imagine was difficult in the hot sun.  They were wonderful.   They posed for pictures, gave an interview to the film crew that was there, Father Ben serving as the host and the man with the questions.  At the end we were allowed to ask questions, take pictures, pose and mingle.  I felt like part of a great, huge family and wished that everyone from all the lists could have been there to experience this.

 

 


During our wanderings we made our way into an inner courtyard with a fountain where Guy, jr posed again.  It was idyllic and peaceful in there and some of us waited behind when the others left.  BarBara did too and we posed for her and told where we were from.  She posed for us in return.  As things wound down, I visited the gift shop, where I found two books about the mission, one of which was a juvenile book.  Lo and behold it mentioned that the Mission had been used for filming the TV series, Zorro in 1957.

 

BarBara Luna and I-- one very vivacious lady. 


I visited the remains of soldiers barracks that were located in front of the mission and watched the ground squirrels playing on their mounds.  All too soon it was time to leave.  How I wish I could go back and feel the presence of that place once more.  It was beautiful.  Thank you to all who made it possible.

 

This is above the doorway to the cemetery.  We were told this was a common feature at most California missions. 

This is by the colonnades in front of the mission, and looks very much like the place where Diego and Bernardo conspired against Monastario.   This and the  photo to the left are by SueZZZ.

 

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