Bells and Ruins (2005)

Mission San Juan Capistrano has four bells, each of which has a name. “San Vicente” and “San Juan” are the two large ones cast in 1796; “San Antonio” and “San Rafael” are the two small ones from 1804. When the Mission’s Great Stone Church was completed in 1806, all four bells hung in a campanile 37 meters high.

The two large bells cracked when they fell from the tower during the 1812 earthquake that destroyed the Great Stone Church. Even though the cracks destroyed the bells’ ability to ring clearly, the padres put them in a bell wall they built in 1813, along with the two smaller bells that weren’t damaged. The Archdiocese commissioned ringable replicas of the large bells in 2000 to replace the damaged ones in the wall. They moved the original bells to this frame in front of the Great Stone Church ruins, at the former location of the campanile.

“San Vicente” is the larger bell on the left. The Latin text on its exterior translates to Praised by Jesus, San Vicente. In honor of the Reverend Fathers, Ministers Fray Vicente Fuster, and Fray Juan Santiago, 1796. Fuster and Santiago were the Franciscan padres in charge of the mission at the time. “San Juan” is the smaller bell on the right. Its text reads Hail Mary most pure. Ruelas made me, and my name is San Juan, 1796.

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