Saint Junipero Serra (1713 – 1784), established Mission San Juan Capistrano on November 1, 1776, over 240 years ago. Like the other missions in California, Mission San Juan Capistrano was established to spread the Catholic faith. Over the last 200 years, Mission San Juan Capistrano has continued to serve its Catholic community. Although founded in the Catholic tradition, the site itself brings a sense of peace and deep spirituality to visitors of all faith traditions.
The Mission heart, or spiritual center, is located in the Serra Chapel, which dates back to the 1780s and is where the Eucharist has been celebrated daily. As California’s only chapel still standing where Saint Serra celebrated Mass, it is the most historically significant church visited by millions. The Serra Chapel houses memories from generations past, present, and future.
For the mass schedule at the Basilica, the San Juan Capistrano Parish’s main house of worship, please see service information below, Serra Chapel services are noted as Serra Chapel:
For the most up to date information about mass services at the Serra Chapel, please contact the Mission Basilica Parish Office.
Sat 6:30AM, Vigil 4:30PM, 6PM Español
Sun 7:30AM, 9AM, 11AM, 1PM Español, 5PM
6:30AM, 7PM Español
6:30AM, 5;30PM, 7PM Español
Saturday 8AM or by Appointment
History of Serra Chapel
Serra Chapel is one of the State’s most historically significant chapels and is one of San Juan Capistrano’s original locations for the daily celebration of the Eucharist. At nearly 240 years, the Chapel has survived into the 21st century as a place of deep meaning and faith tradition.
In fact, while Mission San Juan Capistrano is renown as the “Jewel of the Missions,” the Serra Chapel could be considered “the Jewel of the Jewel” and stands as a proud monument to California’s early multi-cultural history, embracing a Native American, Spanish, Mexican, European and American heritage.
The Chapel was built and constructed by local Native Americans as baptized Catholics re-named “Juaneños.” These builders were originally known as the Acjachemen people. According to the Mission’s registers, Saint Junípero celebrated Mass in the Chapel in 1783 and by 1811 more than 1,200 people lived and worked at the Mission as a thriving community of Catholic tradesmen, farmers, soldiers and clergy.
After secularization in 1833, many events changed the course of the Mission’s history. In 1845, Mexican governor Pio Pico sold the Mission buildings at auction to his brother-in-law John Forster. For the next 20 years, John Forster and his wife Isidora Pico Forster used the South Wing as their home and raised their family. The Forsters also maintained a small room for the priest who was assigned to serve the community of San Juan Capistrano. Although Serra Chapel remained an active parish, the priests’ records indicated only 23 parishoners lived in town or at nearby ranchos by the 1850s.
After the Mission was returned to the Catholic Church in 1865, the Mission underwent long periods of deferred maintenance and experienced decades of decline through the late 1800s. By 1891 Serra Chapel was deemed unsafe to hold services.
St. Peregrine’s Chapel
Prayer to St. Peregrine:
O GOD, who gave to St. Peregrine,
an Angel for his companion,
the Mother of God for his teacher
and Jesus for the Physician of his malady;
grant, we pray that through his merits,
we may on earth intensely love our Holy Angel,
the Blessed Virgin and our Saviour
and in heaven bless them forever.
Grant that we may receive
the favor for which we now petition.
Through the same Christ our Lord.
This special prayer room located within the Serra Chapel is dedicated to Saint Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer sufferers. For decades, St. Peregrine’s Chapel has been a place for hope and healing for many people from all walks of life and faith traditions. It is normally open free of charge at the scheduled Mass at the Serra Chapel. Learn more about safety guidelines.
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