A message of resurrection echoed through the historic San Luis Obispo Mission, where services overflowed Sunday with worshipers.
The Easter Sunday service was preceded Saturday by a candlelight mass.
The flames were welcomed with caution just days after haunting images of Notre Dame ablaze left the world in shock.
“I wanted to make sure the building was accessible for fire trucks in case there was any sort of emergency,” Michael LaFreniere, a Mission program assistant, bell-ringer and member of the mission’s congregation.
LaFreniere, who has been a member of the Mission congregation for 30 years, said the Mission is no stranger to tragedy.
“The first building they built was a few blocks over from here,” LaFreniere said. “They built it during drought and didn’t realize how high flood waters got so that building was destroyed by flood and the second building was destroyed by fire. This building stood the test of time.”
The Mission was founded in 1772, but the main structure wasn’t built until the 1790s. Today, it’s about 70 percent original, according to LaFreniere.
“One of our artifacts that means a lot to the church is the statue of Saint Louis the bishop of Toulouse, he’s the patron saint,” LaFreniere said. “And the statute that we have is about 100 years older than the church itself.”
LaFreniere said the statute is one of the artifacts prioritized in the event of disaster if it’s possible to save anything.
The mission is a place of worship and a beloved icon…but many parishoners would agree – it’s the congregation and their faith that makes this place sacred.
“go in the peace of christ, allelujiah.”