Ruins of the Great Stone Church


The Great Stone Church’s monumental construction began in 1797. The people of Mission San Juan Capistrano desperately needed a new church. The small adobe chapel they had been using for over ten years could not hold all of the Native Americans that lived at the Mission. A new church had to be constructed.

For nine years, they toiled, and in 1806, they finished the Church and hosted a grand party to celebrate. Tragically, only six years after they completed the church, something terrible happened. On December 8, 1812, the Great Stone Church fell due to a tragic earthquake that killed over 40 people attending mass on December 8th. The church was never rebuilt.  After the disaster, the padres made no attempt at rebuilding, thereby leaving it in ruins for the entire community to remember their loss.

The ruins stand today as a testament to tragedy and the past.