Mission San Juan Capistrano, historic landmark and museum, is the Birthplace of Orange County. It was founded more than two hundred years ago as the 7th of 21 missions statewide and features a chapel still standing where Saint Serra once celebrated Mass.
The purpose of the mission was to expand the colonizing boundaries of Spain and to spread Christianity to the Natives. The missions were at the forefront of assimilation and forcing the Natives into Catholicism. The objection was to transform them into self-sustaining Spanish subjects of the colonial order.
Each mission had a presidio which was to protect the Spaniards from any hostile natives or invasion from the Russians or other European powers. The mission was crippling to the indigenous Acjachemen who could not handle the diseases the Europeans brought over such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, measles, and syphilis. Those that did not die or fight back, succumbed to the missionary lifestyle.
Joining the mission meant the Acjachemen had to abandon their old lives and completely transform themselves. They were required to change their culture, language, religion, work, clothing, food, and even their daily schedule.
Today, it is a monument to California’s multi-cultural history, embracing its Native American, Spanish, Mexican and European heritage. Originally built as a self sufficient community by Spanish Padres and Native Americans, the Mission was a center for agriculture, industry, education and religion.