Liturgical Collection


This is only a partial listing of Mission San Juan Capistrano’s Liturgical collection.

Collection Highlights:

Altar Candlesticks

Altar Candlesticks
These candlesticks were reportedly salvaged from the ruins of the Great Stone Church after the devastating earthquake of 1812 in which 40 people perished. Housed within the Serra Chapel until the late 1800s, these candlesticks adorned the altar during the celebration of Mass and the sacred Eucharist. The light from these candles facilitated the administration of sacraments and symbolized the “light” of Christ, invoking the words, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). According to Catholic tradition, candles must be placed atop a pair of candlesticks to light the altar during any religious ceremony.

 

 


Chalice

Chalice circa 1930s

Chalice
A chalice is a vessel for the consumption of sacred wine at communion, a ceremony in which parishioners break bread and drink wine in remembrance of Christ. Priests used this chalice during Mass from the 1930s to the 1950s at the Mission, most likely in the Serra Chapel where Father Junipero Serra originally administered the Eucharist. This vessel served to connect the parishioner with Christ as the priest consecrated the wine and delivered the formal ceremony. By sharing the chalice among the parishioners, the priest not only connects the worshipper with God but also symbolically unites the congregation as the body of Christ. The chalice continues to serve as a representation of the Catholic faith and the parish community’s 230+ years of worship at this historic site.

Currently on display in the Mission Treasures Exhibit,
open daily 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 

 


Vestment

Vestment circa 1770s

Vestment
Nicknamed the “Serra Chasuble” and possibly worn by Father Serra himself, this vestment invokes a sense of reverence towards Mass and conveys the “weight” of the ceremony in its religious significance. According to Reverend Arthur A. Holquin, the Pastor/Rector Emeritus of Mission San Juan Capistrano, the word “chasuble” is derived from the “Latin word ‘casula,’ which means ‘little house,’ since its older form completely enveloped the body.”

The chasuble, the outermost liturgical garment that covers the priest’s torso, represents God’s love and protection, investing the priest with divine significance. Worn around the neck is the stole, a direct symbol of the cross and Christ’s sacrifice, signifying the priest’s authority and ability to pardon sins. Also included is the maniple, an embroidered silk band worn on the left wrist which served to wipe away the priest’s perspiration and tears, similar to a handkerchief. Though not commonly used today, this highly decorative garment matches the chasuble and often displays a high degree of ornamentation. Finally, the orphrey band, worn over the chasuble, features an image of a cross, symbolic of Christ’s crucifixion and subsequent resurrection; it usually depicts a Biblical scene in highly ornate embroidery, and its weight symbolically reminds the priest of his obligation to God.

This particular vestment illustrates a passage from the Book of Revelations (Rev 5:1): a “Lamb of God” rests on seven gold seals, decorated with gold and silver embellishments to enrich the garment. Roman in style, its characteristics can be traced to the period of the Blessed Junipero Serra, though its original ownership remains uncertain.

Currently on display in the Mission Treasures Exhibit, open daily 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Tabernacle

Tabernacle

Tabernacle
Ornate in form but simple in function, this 18th century tabernacle features intricate carvings and vibrant paint to distinguish it from the other liturgical objects in the church. It essentially houses the consecrated bread and wine used in the Eucharist during the celebration of Mass. Gilded, spiral columns frame the miniature wooden door which conceals the sacred contents. The purpose of this elaborate vessel was to inspire reverence in the viewer and to bestow a sense of ceremony for this sacred rite.

Currently on display in the Mission Treasures Exhibit,
open daily 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.