Posted: May 1, 2012 4:37 PM by Jeanette Trompeter
Updated: Aug 2, 2012 10:42 PM
It's been here much longer than any of us have.
Mission San Miguel is more than 200 years old. It stands as a monument to the history of our state and the people who were here even before statehood.
The Mission opened in 1797. To say it houses California history is an understatement. It is the only mission of the 21 that still has original artwork done by Native Americans.
"This mission specifically holds great importance for us because out of all the California missions, it's probably the most authentic, the murals are originals that were painted and it represents that really historical dimension of the past," Father Larry Gosselin, OFM, said.
Built in a valley near where the Salinas and Nacimiento rivers joined, the mission property encompasses 7.5 acres. It's still an active parish, holding masses weekly and on holidays.
"We have a retreat center here and we also have our house and bishop where our young men come who are entering our Franciscan order to spend a year here," Father Larry said.
It is a wonderful place for anyone to spend time in prayer, contemplation, and in a sense, seclusion. There is a kind of peace to be found within its walls. Unfortunately, there is also damage.
The San Simeon earthquake of 2003 left behind evidence of it's magnitude and the county of San Luis Obispo condemned the property. While the repair and restoration project is monumental, it has not proven impossible. Multiple fund-raising efforts nationwide have raised about three-quarters of the $15,000,000 needed to open it all back up.
"there's also some repair work in the church. You know, the necessary conservation work that needs to be done inside the mission church with the original frescos. And all of this would be price tagged at about $4,000,000 that still needs to be raised," Raynette Gregory, Chairperson of fund-raising events, said.
And a wine and food event this weekend will contribute to those efforts. It also gives you an opportunity to visit an area of the mission that, usually, you can only take a peek at.
"So this is a unique opportunity where they can actually come in and spend an afternoon here and really appreciate it. So we want the Wine Experiencia to be a sacred event, too. You know it's not just a normal wine event- it's a unique experience," Father Larry said.
Come Saturday, May 5th, this quiet, serene space will be bustling with about 70 local vintners pouring, as well as olive oil, food and art vendors. The Wine Experiencia will invite 28 wineries and ten local restaurants to the mission grounds. A unique transformation designed not only to help restore this magnificent piece of California history, but to share it's restorative qualities with many more generations to come.
"So, it kind of is a balance between the two, the act of life and the contemplation of life. So we want people to come and appreciate especially the Inner Garden. It's so beautiful. Especially this time of year right now. But, we want people to come here and feel the sacredness and the beauty of it and there is a tranquility here that I think everybody feels," Father Larry said.
There's too much history here to let go of. Too much beauty. It's taken a few knocks, but still stands as a peaceful refuge from all that zaps our energy and spirit.
"The walls hold some treasure, some history, some legend... History of the people... History of people with faith. I think everyone feels that," he said.
And it's all right in our own backyard.