San Gabriel Mission, a symbol of faith, history and oppression, is badly damaged by fire (2022)

Anita Chavez joined the hundreds of mourners at San Gabriel Mission Church on Saturday for what many considered a family wake without a body.

They came from across the region to survey the destruction after a fire that ripped through the church of the 249-year-old mission, one of California’s most historic landmarks, sacred ground for the Catholic faithful but also a symbol of a system that enslaved and terrorized indigenous peoples.

Hundreds of parishioners from the San Gabriel Mission Roman Catholic community gathered all day in the parking lot to cry, grieve, pray, reminisce and talk about their faith.

“My heart is full of sadness,” said Chavez, a 70-year-old San Gabriel resident who calls herself a “lifetime parishioner.”

“This church has been at the center of my family, my world and my faith,” she added.

San Gabriel Mission, a symbol of faith, history and oppression, is badly damaged by fire (1)

Bishop David O’Connell leaves the San Gabriel Mission Church after viewing the fire damage.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

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The fire was first reported at 4:24 a.m. When an engine arrived to investigate, firefighters saw flames and smoke coming from the corner of the mission.

Firefighters tried to save the church. But portions of the 215-year-old building started to fall on them and they decided to battle the fire from outside, said Capt. Antonio Negrete, public information officer for the San Gabriel Fire Department.

No injuries were reported, but the damage was extensive.

Flames destroyed the roof, most of the just-refurbished pews and portions of the interior, though some statues and other historic items survived.

Most valuable artifacts escaped damage, said Terri Huerta, director of development and communications for the mission.

“The altar is still intact, the last time that we were able to take a peek inside,” she said. “It’s miraculously intact, including the historical wooden statues that were attached to the altar, and so we have a lot to be grateful for.”

San Gabriel Mission, a symbol of faith, history and oppression, is badly damaged by fire (2)

Sunlight beams through the destroyed roof onto charred pews inside the San Gabriel Mission Church.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

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The cause of the fire is under investigation. The blaze came amid rising anger over California missions and other colonial monuments that for many serve as painful reminders of the nation’s racist history. For that reason, investigators, including a representative from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were looking into whether it was intentionally set, officials said.

“Just because it’s a church, and I’m sure you’re aware of the recent vandalism that’s been done to the mission churches and the statues of Junípero Serra,” Negrete said. “So that’s part of the investigation.”

Founded by Franciscan Father Junípero Serra in 1771, the San Gabriel Mission has long been seen as an essential link to California’s past, as well as to the brutality and racism that played a role in the state’s founding.

Considered by historians to be the most important base of operations for the Spanish conquest of California, San Gabriel was the fourth of 21 missions established in the state, and one of the grandest. At its height in 1829, the mission had 50,000 livestock, 160,000 grapevines, and 2,300 fruit trees, said Philip Ethington, professor of history and political science and chair of the history department at USC.

But the church amassed those riches on the backs of the Tongva and other indigenous people, whom the friars forced into labor and coerced into converting to Catholicism and assimilating to their culture.

“It was really a labor camp enforced with whipping and stockades and lots of corporal punishment,” Ethington said.

Thousands are estimated to have died after they were exposed to foreign diseases or suffered other “comorbidities of conquest,” said William Deverell, director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West and a professor of history at USC.

“It’s still a site of faith and worship, but it’s also a site of great sadness,” Deverell said. “Because in that parish ground, within the confines of the church, there are thousands of unnamed indigenous dead below what’s now a small Catholic cemetery.”

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Yve Chavez, an assistant professor at UC Santa Cruz, whose ancestors lived at the mission, helped build it and are buried in its cemetery, also described its legacy as complicated.

“On the one hand, the news of today is quite devastating because this is something that our ancestors made,” she said. “Some people might see these as monuments to Catholicism or Spain, but I think it’s important to recognize that this is the product of Native labor.”

Still, she noted, that work was performed under duress and came at an unspeakably high cost.

“The structure itself is a reminder of our ancestors who sacrificed their lives and their labor to make these missions possible,” she said.

In addition to destroying the lives of Native Californians, the mission system has deeply tarnished the image of Serra, its architect, who has long been considered one of California’s founding fathers. Serra was made a saint by the Catholic Church in 2015, fueling outrage from many indigenous activists and others.

Statues of Serra have been targets of vandalism in recent years by activists who point to how the mission system enslaved and killed off Native Californians. Those protests grew in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, which ignited a nationwide reckoning over racial justice. A Serra statue at Olvera Street was toppled, and officials in Ventura pledged to move a statue of Serra that stands outside City Hall.

The San Gabriel Mission also features a statue of Serra, and officials stepped up security around its grounds about two weeks ago, Huerta said. The mission eventually decided to move the statue into its garden, away from public view, she said.

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Julie Sanchez Brehove has been going to the San Gabriel Mission all 27 years of her life. In November, she and her husband were married there. On Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m., they stood together from beyond the barrier set up by firefighters and watched their spiritual home smolder.

“For all of us parishioners, it’s our gathering place, it’s the center of our spiritual lives,” Sanchez Brehove said. She recognizes, though, that it has a history of harm.

“I understand that there is a lot of anger about the treatment of the indigenous people at the mission,” Sanchez Brehove said. “When I think of the mission, in my personal experience, it’s my gathering place and it’s a place where people are welcome, and we do try to live the way that Christ taught. But I do understand … that people in the history of the church have acted unjustly, and that’s something that can be very difficult to reconcile.”

She remembers always knowing that the land on which the mission stands belonged to the indigenous people first, and as a Catholic high school English teacher she discusses with her students the racist colonialist themes in 19th century literature, she said.

Thinking of her community today, Sanchez Brehove is grateful no one was hurt in this fire.

“We’ll probably still livestream Mass [on Sunday], and we’re just praying for healing, praying for peace and praying and thanks-giving that no one was hurt.”

One of the more visible groups to arrive outside the church was a branch of the Knights on Bikes, a motorcycle group affiliated with the Knights of Columbus, a self-described fraternity of “Catholic men of faith and charitable action.”

Paul Padilla, 50, came from Fontana with a group of four other black-vested, blue-jeaned, masked members.

They assessed the situation, took photos, spoke with relatives and then pulled out rosaries and prayed.

Fellow member David Sanchez, 59, grew up in East Los Angeles and remembered field trips as a young student to the mission, while Enrique Bonilla, 39, a Pasadena resident, said he had attended many mission services.

“It’s sad this happened,” Sanchez said. “This was a place of peace for so many people.”

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Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez toured the fire damage around 10:25 a.m., while San Gabriel Valley regional Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell met and spoke with distressed parishioners and visitors.

“We’re all brokenhearted by this, and this adds another trauma onto the present trauma of the coronavirus and everything else that’s happening,” O’Connell said. “People love the mission, and many of these families have connections going back generations.”

FAQs

What is San Gabriel Mission known for? ›

The Mission was known for its thriving agriculture industry, which continued even after the Mission was disbanded. It was also known for revolutionary water systems, and a restored portion of the elaborate water delivery system, the Chapman Millrace, sits in Plaza Park just outside the Mission grounds.

Who burned down the San Gabriel Mission? ›

An investigation into the origin of the fire was opened. On May 5, 2021, John David Corey, age 57, was charged with felony counts of arson and burglary for setting the fire.

What are three interesting facts about the San Gabriel Mission? ›

Interesting Facts about San Gabriel Mission

Mission San Gabriel is the oldest structure of its kind south of Monterey. Settlers from the mission founded the City of Los Angeles. The mission is the only one in California with Moorish architecture, and it has no bell tower.

What is Mission San Gabriel arcángel used for today? ›

Today the building houses several local retailers and businesses, retaining its Mission Revival architectural style. Across Santa Anita Street is the old Bank of San Gabriel, built in 1915 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.

What does the name San Gabriel mean? ›

San Gabriel (Spanish for "St. Gabriel") is a city located in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County, California.

How do you draw the Mission San Gabriel? ›

Let's Draw a CA. Mission Bell Colonnade! (San Gabriel) - YouTube

How did the San Gabriel Mission burn down? ›

The interior of the historic San Gabriel Mission was gutted by an arson fire in July 2020. A man pleaded not guilty Thursday to setting the fire last year that caused millions of dollars in damage to the San Gabriel Mission.

Which mission burned down? ›

The San Gabriel Mission was undergoing renovations to mark its 250th anniversary when a fire broke out July 11, engulfing the roof and front entrance of the church. Firefighters forced entry to tame the blaze, breaking parts of the roof and ceiling, officials said. No one was hurt in the fire.

How did the San Gabriel Mission fire start? ›

Prosecutors allege Corey broke into the mission and started the blaze, which spread to the roof and along the length of the church.

How did the San Gabriel Mission help California? ›

The mission was more productive than any other California mission. It grew many crops, including wheat, barley, corn, lentils, and chickpeas. San Gabriel also had the largest vineyard in California. It supplied vines to other missions.

What type of angel is Gabriel? ›

Alongside archangel Michael, Gabriel is described as the guardian angel of Israel, defending this people against the angels of the other nations. In Kabbalah, Gabriel is identified with the sephirah of Yesod. Gabriel also has a prominent role as one of God's archangels in the Kabbalah literature.

What type of angel is Gabriel in the Bible? ›

Gabriel, Hebrew Gavriʾel, Arabic Jibrāʾīl, Jabrāʾīl, or Jibrīl, in the three Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—one of the archangels. Gabriel was the heavenly messenger sent to Daniel to explain the vision of the ram and the he-goat and to communicate the prediction of the Seventy Weeks.

How did Saint Gabriel become a saint? ›

When Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother a saint, he also declared him the patron of Catholic youth, students, and young men studying for the priesthood.

How do you draw missions? ›

Let's Draw Mission San Juan Capistrano! - YouTube

How do you draw a mission house? ›

Let's Draw a California Mission! (San Diego) - YouTube

How do you draw Mission San Miguel Arcangel? ›

Let's Draw Mission San Miguel! - YouTube

When was the Mission San Gabriel fire? ›

“The loss to the mission was in the millions of dollars,” Gascón said, “but the loss to the community is immeasurable.” The day after the July 11 mission fire, Corey attempted to set a fire at Carl's Shoe Repair on West Las Tunas Drive in San Gabriel, according to court records.

When was the San Gabriel fire? ›

Incident Overview

The San Gabriel Fire ignited on July 23, 2022, approximately 6 miles east of Liberty Hill near the Lake Georgetown Recreational Area. Texas A&M Forest Service is working in unified command with the local jurisdiction.

Is there a fire in San Gabriel Valley? ›

The San Gabriel Complex Fire was a wildfire that burned in 2016 in the Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County, California, United States.
...
San Gabriel Complex Fire
Coordinates34.168°N 117.9°W
Statistics
Date(s)June 20, 2016 - July 23, 2016
Burned area5,399 acres (21.85 km2; 2,185 ha)
6 more rows

How old is the San Gabriel Mission? ›

What is the oldest mission? ›

Originally built around 1610, it is often referred to as the oldest church in the United States (excluding Puerto Rico), though it is likely that little of the original structure is still present.
...
San Miguel Mission.
San Miguel Archángel
StatusActive
Location
LocationSanta Fe, New Mexico USA
Shown within New Mexico
14 more rows

What products did Mission San Gabriel produce? ›

Mission Grounds: Mission San Gabriel has been called the Mother of California Agriculture as it produced more wheat than any other mission, as well as barley, corn, beans, peas, lentils, many fruits, and vineyards. Livestock numbered over 20,000 head.

What animals were raised at San Gabriel? ›

What Kind of Cattle Did the Mission San Gabriel Raise?
  • Iberian Cattle. The cattle Columbus brought were from Spain and Portugal, and were likely a mixed lot of local breeds, such as the Mirasmena and the Mertolenga. ...
  • Native Wild Cattle. ...
  • Texas Longhorns. ...
  • California Cattle.

What was major crops in San Gabriel Mission? ›

By 1829, the mission had 25,000 head of cattle, 15,000 sheep, perhaps the largest vineyard in Spanish California, and abundant crops of wheat, barley, corn, beans, peas, lentils and garbanzos.

What animals did Mission San Gabriel have? ›

An 1827 inventory gave the Mission San Gabriel approximately 18,400 head of cattle, 2,400 horses, and 14,000 sheep.

How did the San Gabriel Mission fire start? ›

Prosecutors allege Corey broke into the mission and started the blaze, which spread to the roof and along the length of the church.

How old is the San Gabriel Mission? ›

What led to the end of the California mission system? ›

End of the Mission System

By 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain. For several years, there was debate about what to do with the mission system. In 1833, the Mexican government passed a law that secularized and ended missions. California was part of Mexico during this time.

What are the major features of Mission San Jose? ›

In agriculture, Mission San José was the most successful of the northern missions. It grew grain, beans, and vegetables and had large olive and fruit tree orchards. The mission was known for the quality of its olive oil. In 1868 an earthquake destroyed the mission church and several mission buildings.

What other types of products were made at the mission? ›

The missions warehouse was filled with many kinds of products that they made, including animals hides, tallow for candles and soap, cloth woven from wool, and dairy products.

What animals did the Spanish bring to California? ›

The Spaniards brought to their settlements many crops that are still California staples, including oranges, olives, peaches, corn, and wheat. They also brought with them from Mexico European grazing animals including cattle, sheep, goats, burros, and horses.

How did plants and crops change the area surrounding missions? ›

The later success of the crops and gardens did enable the missions to become almost self-sufficient for some years. Many raised more food than they needed. They were expected to supply the presidios with food, and still had enough to use for trade.

What was the San Jose mission made out of? ›

Mission San Jose was founded in 1797 and became one of the most prosperous missions due to the abundance of nearby natural resources. More than 100 adobe buildings were constructed, thousands of cattle, sheep and horses grazed on its land, and acres of wheat were cultivated.

SAN GABRIEL, Calif. (RNS) — The fire has not only ignited Catholics to stand in support of the church, but also caused concern among Native people and scholars who fear the flames destroyed Indigenous artifacts and the structure itself, which was built by the Tongva people.

SAN GABRIEL, Calif. (RNS) — Authorities are continuing to investigate a Saturday morning blaze that destroyed the rooftop of a church at the historic San Gabriel Mission, the fourth in a series of missions across California that Father Junipero Serra founded during the Spanish colonization era.. However, the reredos (an ornamental screen behind the altar) was damaged, as were a number of statues, including Saint Gabriel the Archangel, Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Dominic monuments, said Terri Huerta, a spokesperson for the San Gabriel Mission.. Curious onlookers stand outside the San Gabriel Mission in the aftermath of a morning fire Saturday, July 11, 2020, in San Gabriel, California.. The fire has not only ignited Catholics to stand in support of the church, but also caused concern among Native people and scholars who worried the flames destroyed Indigenous artifacts and the structure itself, which was built by the Tongva people.. This particular church at the San Gabriel Mission was one of a few built out of stone instead of adobe, said Chavez, whose research focuses on Indigenous art of Southern California and the missions.. “What we see now post-fire and even before the fire is not reflective of what Native people would have experienced way back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when the Franciscans had control over the missions,” Chavez said.. On Sunday, a number of people gathered outside the church to pray and reflect on what the mission means to them.. Soriano admits the Catholic Church and the mission system have a “nuanced and mixed history,” but he stands by Serra as a “defender of the Native Americans and Indigenous people.”. Huerta, the spokesperson for the San Gabriel Mission, said the community has deep ties with the mission.

Fire destroyed the roof and gutted much of the interior of the San Gabriel Mission Church early Saturday. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) By ANDREW J. CAMPA, ALEX WIGGLESWORTH, SONALI KOHLI JULY…

Anita Chavez joined the hundreds of mourners at San Gabriel Mission Church on Saturday for what many considered a family wake without a body.. Bishop David O’Connell leaves the San Gabriel Mission Church after viewing the fire damage.. The cause of the fire is under investigation.. “Just because it’s a church, and I’m sure you’re aware of the recent vandalism that’s been done to the mission churches and the statues of Junípero Serra,” Negrete said.. “The structure itself is a reminder of our ancestors who sacrificed their lives and their labor to make these missions possible,” she said.. Statues of Serra have been targets of vandalism in recent years by activists who point to how the mission system enslaved and killed off Native Californians.. “For all of us parishioners, it’s our gathering place, it’s the center of our spiritual lives,” Sanchez Brehove said.. “I understand that there is a lot of anger about the treatment of the indigenous people at the mission,” Sanchez Brehove said.. “It’s sad this happened,” Sanchez said.

Mission spokesperson asserts 'right' to set buildings aflame

You are not signed in as a Premium user; we rely on Premium users to support our news reporting.. SAN GABRIEL, Calif. ( ChurchMilitant.com ) - A spokesperson for California's San Gabriel Arcángel Mission reportedly told a fellow Catholic that it's "justified" to attack churches and statues if they're deemed offensive.. Beatrice CardenasWhen Cardenas countered that didn't give anyone a right to set a church or a building on fire, Huerta responded, "Yes, it does.. Based on Cardenas' conversations with the people gathered she said , "I can tell you that everyone is fed up already and strongly suspect this was an arson attack against the Church, against this nation, and against freedom.". The "rock-solid catechesis of the Catholic Church" is being attacked by a destructive force from within, by "members of the community who value social change above truth," she said.. The official story the archdiocese gave the public was that the statute of St. Serra at the San Gabriel mission was placed in secure storage for safekeeping.. But according to Cardenas, "The archbishop José Gomez decided to remove it because it brings painful moments to many people," says Cardenas on her Facebook page , "per Ms.. Serra on his first trip to what was to become Alta, California, so as mother I also have an added interest in protecting the Missions and the rich legacy of once Spanish Catholic California.". I again explained that it was unsafe, that I couldn't take anything from the Church and that I was sorry.. I replied by saying that if she wanted to know what the Church's stance was on the removal of the statue to go on the website and see our pastor's comment.. I told her, and these are my words verbatim, "Ma'am this is a free country and people have the right to gather and protest.". I replied and told her, "Don't put words in my mouth, I don't condone anything.". What kind of a Catholic are you?. Look around you, look at all these people.

SAN GABRIEL, Calif. (RNS) — The fire has not only ignited Catholics to stand in support of the church, but also caused concern among Native people and scholars who fear the flames destroyed Indigenous artifacts and the structure itself, which was built by the Tongva people.

This particular church at the San Gabriel Mission was one of a few built out of stone instead of adobe, said Chavez, whose research focuses on Indigenous art of Southern California and the missions.. “It’s the Native people who did the work.. Soriano admits the Catholic Church and the mission system have a “nuanced and mixed history,” but he stands by Serra as a “defender of the Native Americans and Indigenous people.”. Further than that, this is so much of history that a lot of people will contribute to it,” she said.. Huerta, the spokesperson for the San Gabriel Mission, said the community has deep ties with the mission.

A historic Catholic church was nearly destroyed in a fire. Why isn't anyone talking about it?

This work will be possible in part thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in small donations , a great deal of it raised in the United States, where news of the fire was the occasion of widespread grief.. But it is hard not to find oneself asking why comparatively little attention is being given to the recent fire at the Mission of St. Gabriel the Archangel in San Gabriel, California, near Pasadena, which nearly destroyed the 250-year-old church.. But it would hardly be an exaggeration to say that San Gabriel and the other great Spanish missions are as important to the history of California as Notre Dame is to the history of France.. The missions remind us that American history — which, in the sense of there being such a country as the United States, they transcend — is a far stranger and more varied thing than most of us like to imagine, a vestige of a land that was once neither white nor Anglo-Saxon nor, especially, Protestant.. For absurd reasons that betray ignorance of history and of this great saint's own virtuous conduct in particular, mobs have toppled or otherwise desecrated statues of Serra throughout California in recent weeks.. On the same day as the blaze at San Gabriel, a church in Florida was set on fire while parishioners were inside awaiting the start of Mass, an act of anti-Catholic terrorism worthy of the worst days of the 19th century.. I hope (if that verb can be properly applied to anything involving the destruction of Church property) that last week's fire in San Gabriel proves to be an unfortunate accident.. Among other things it would serve as a reminder to Catholics in the United States that our history should be cherished regardless of whether it is under attack.. In a country in which membership in such anodyne charitable organizations as the Knights of Columbus is considered an obstacle to holding public office by mainstream politicians, and in which it is considered unremarkable for senators to refer to belief in the basic tenets of our religion as a matter "of concern," Catholics know where we are.. As historian Thomas Babington Macaulay put it in his famous essay on Ranke's History of the Popes :. The tragedy of the recent fire should not blind us to the fact that the Holy Sacrifice of Mass may well be offered and the prayers of Our Lady recited at San Gabriel long after the surrounding country is returned to the same wild state at which St. Junípero Serra arrived long before the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence was composed.. Mar-a-Lago raid was reportedly tied to Trump's retention of classified documents

Use this guide to learn about the San Gabriel Mission, including history, historical and current photographs, and resources.

In the summer of 1771, the Fathers created two more missions: Mission San Antonio de Padua which is south of Carmel and San Gabriel Mission in the area that is now Los Angeles.. For 7,000 years before the Spanish came, the Tongva Indians lived in the area of California where Los Angeles now is.. The altar was made in Mexico City and brought to Mission San Gabriel in the 1790's.. San Gabriel Mission was the fourth one built in California.. The name San Gabriel Mission is for the Arcangel Gabriel.. The mission is the only one in California with Moorish architecture, and it has no bell tower.. Mission San Gabriel is at 428 South Mission Drive in San Gabriel CA.

A massive fire that ripped through the historic San Gabriel Mission early Saturday destroyed its roof and much of its interior, authorities say.

San Gabriel Fire Capt.. David Mulligan stands at the doors of the San Gabriel Mission, which was severely damaged in an early morning fire Saturday.. Damage to the roof of the historic San Gabriel Mission is seen after it caught fire overnight.. "The altar is still intact, the last time that we were able to take a peek inside," she said.. San Gabriel is considered to be one of the best-preserved missions, with the church building and altar dating to about 1805, Huerta said.. “It was a real labor of love to bring those pews back to life,” Huerta said.. “People love the mission, and many of these families have connections going back generations.”. “Just because it's a church, and I'm sure you're aware of the recent vandalism that’s been done to the mission churches and the statues of Junipero Serra,” Negrete said.. "The structure itself is a reminder of our ancestors who sacrificed their lives and their labor to make these missions possible," she said.. Bogany was sad when she saw images of the damaged mission Saturday morning, she said.. San Gabriel Firefighter Hrag Jivalagian continues to work on hot spots after a fire severely damaged the San Gabriel Mission.. "We will leave that up to the police and Fire Department and their investigation.". “For all of us parishioners, it’s our gathering place, it’s the center of our spiritual lives,” Sanchez Brehove said.. “It’s sad this happened,” Sanchez said.

On July 11, the historic 249-year-old California church near Los Angeles was ablaze, with flames and smoke erupting from the wooden roof.

“This fire changes nothing,” the archbishop said in a Mass the day after the fire.. “Mission San Gabriel will always be the spiritual heart of the church in Los Angeles, the place from which the gospel still goes forth.”. Photo: David Snyder for the St. Jude League For almost a decade, Mission San Gabriel and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles have worked with Native Americans to address the complicated history of the European colonization of southern California and its effects on the indigenous people of the area.. For the past seven years, Mission San Gabriel has worked with members of the San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, also called the Gabrielinos or Gabrieleños, to provide a clearer picture of the complicated history of the mission system.. Several of this summer’s California protests, including in Los Angeles and San Francisco, involved the toppling of statues of St. Junípero Serra.. We’re Catholic and we go to Mass here.. “Some people would say if the Catholic Church did all this, why are you so close to them?” Morales says.. Today, demographics in the city of San Gabriel have changed.. The Vietnamese community at the church has been especially generous, says Father Gerald Kumar, who preaches in Vietnamese at two Masses per week.. Vietnamese Catholics began to arrive in Los Angeles in 1975 after the end of the Vietnam War.. “The house of God islike their family.. Image: Courtesy of Mission San Gabriel

By Pablo Kay Catholic News Service LOS ANGELES — The fire that ravaged Mission San Gabriel Arcangel church in the predawn hours of July 11 left behind a haunting scene. In a matter of minutes, the mission’s 230-year-old roof was nearly gone. The sunlight pouring down through the holes revealed the charred planks that had […]

Mission San Gabriel Arcangel in San Gabriel, Calif., caught fire before sunrise July 11, 2020.. LOS ANGELES — The fire that ravaged Mission San Gabriel Arcangel church in the predawn hours of July 11 left behind a haunting scene.. Just several weeks before the fire, mission officials had decided reluctantly to postpone the jubilee plans for a year, while continuing work on much-needed renovations and improvements to the church.. As the church reopened for public Masses, along with others in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, waves of anti-racism protests had broken out across the country, protests that included attacks on public monuments and statues of figures from U.S. history, including statues of St. Junipero, like those found on the mission’s campus.. In late June, statues to the California missionary were toppled in San Francisco and in Los Angeles, and the weekend before the fire, a long-standing St. Junipero statue outside the state Capitol in Sacramento was felled.. Statues of Mary were damaged in Queens, New York, and in Boston; in Ocala, Florida, a man drove a minivan into a Catholic church before pouring gasoline in the foyer and setting fire to the building.. While there was no immediate word on the cause of the fire, investigators from a regional task force and from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spent Saturday afternoon in the front of the mission, where the fire is believed to have started, City News Service reported July 12.. The timing of the fire — and the broader attacks on St. Junipero statues and other church properties — was too much of a coincidence for them.. Resilience was the theme that morning inside the mission’s Chapel of the Annunciation, where the mission’s pastor, Claretian Father John Molyneux, made a bold pledge to Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles.. Archbishop Gomez had visited the mission just after the fire was contained and came back the next day to celebrate the Sunday Mass and to show solidarity with grieving parishioners.. “Mission San Gabriel will always be the spiritual heart of the church in Los Angeles, the place from which the Gospel still goes forth.”. Archbishop Gomez invoked the intercession and example of the mission’s founder, St. Junipero, a Spanish missionary who advocated for the rights of California’s native peoples, including the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe, who built San Gabriel.

The mysterious painting was the only one in the church that survived the mysterious July 11 fire.

A couple prays before “La Dolorosa” during a recent wedding at Mission San Gabriel.. As a result, the jubilee festivities next fall may need to take place outside the church.. The rear of Mission San Gabriel after debris from the July 11 fire was cleared.. There is also damage from the firefight itself to contend with.. The Twelfth Station of the Cross at Mission San Gabriel, painted by a Tongva artist.. “We want Mission San Gabriel to be a place of healing,” she said.

"You will be back to celebrate our 250th anniversary in a rebuilt church," the mission's pastor told Archbishop Gomez at Sunday Mass.

“This is my church.. Archbishop José H. Gomez and San Gabriel Fire Chief Steve Wallace inspect the damage to Mission San Gabriel the morning of July 11.. “This fire changes nothing,” the archbishop said.. Mission San Gabriel parishioners grieve outside the damaged church's door July 11.. “I think that for a lot of years, there has been this kind of complacency in a lot of Catholic circles,” said Kathleen, who drove up from Orange County with her sister to participate in the rosary and stayed for Mass.

The fire is under investigation. There was no immediate evidence that the blaze had been deliberately set.

The inside of the church after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. The inside of the church after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. ?Connell woks out of the church after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. ?Connell talks to San Gabriel firefighter Hrag Jivalagian about the church after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. The inside of the church after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. The bells atop the church still stand after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. San Gabriel Firefirghter looks over his truck after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. San Gabriel Firefighter walks past the church with a hose after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. The inside of the church after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. A man walks out of the church after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. The original all inside of the church after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. The inside of the church after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.. ?Connell talks about the church after a four-alarm fire tore through the church at Mission San Gabriel destroying the inside of the 245-year-old building in San Gabriel on Saturday, July 11, 2020.

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