was one of the nine missions founded by Saint Junípero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan priest who was a key figure in the evangelization and social construction of the state of California.
The original mission church was regrettably destroyed in an earthquake of 1812. A new edifice, replicating the original as close as possible, was built at the end of the 20th century. In 2006, GRANDA was commissioned to design, craft and install high retablo for the new Basilica.
the Spanish Baroque style and responding to the aesthetics of Mission style churches, the new retablo also introduces iconographic elements typical of American devotions.
Time-honored techniques such as water gilding with fine gold, tempera painting and estofado were used during its construction. At the apex of the monumental 44 foot retablo, sculpture group representing the Holy Trinity is installed. In this traditional image known to Catholics as the Thrown of Glory, God the Father is shown upholding the cross with the Crucified Christ.
Directly below, in the visual center of the altarpiece, a canvas painting of crowned Virgin of Guadalupe is featured.
The lateral niches of the retablo house wood carvings of Saint Junípero Serra, Saint Joseph, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American woman to be canonized, and Saint Francis of Assisi. Both Francis’ clothes and that of Saint Junípero are painted in a unique way. To express their commitment to poverty, lower sections of their statues are polychrome rather than gilded. Moreover, Saint Junípero holds a church building in the palm of his hand, a miniature replica of the Basilica that includes a printed image of the great altarpiece on its inside.
One of the noticeable characteristics of this retablo is presence of many swallows, a type of bird typical of that region. These little birds are carved in wood using the estofado technique and populate the altarpiece. Swallow is an important sentimental symbol in the San Juan de Capistrano area and the reason for a local holiday, because its flocks are known to have taken refuge in the ruins of the old church and continue to return to the area to this day.
also designed and carved two of the lateral altarpieces installed in the nave of the Basilica, using the Spanish Baroque style combining the techniques of water gilding and marbled wood. One of these altarpieces is dedicated to Saint Peregrine. Its carved and estofado image depicts Peregrine showing the wounds on his leg, while the other frames a canvas painting, belonging to the client, that represents Saint John of Capistrano.
For the other altarpiece, GRANDA made a carving in stew wood of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, through whom the Virgin performed the miracle that gave rise to the Guadalupana image and dedication, flanked by two angels.
the stations of the cross we opted for a baroque model of monumental scale. The frames, with a geometric base in which the square and the circle are combined, are reminiscent of the typical openings of the Spanish missions of the SVXIII.
The finishes, gold for the frame and silver for the scene, in contrast to the white of the vertical facing, help to highlight the importance of this element in the nave.
in a side chapel, the tabernacle, due to its size and finishes, draws the attention of the faithful, without the great altarpiece of the basilica being able to compete with it. An eclectic style has been chosen where Romanesque iconography and contemporary design are
combined to also stylistically differentiate the tabernacle from the rest of the ensemble. The Romanesque columns of the pedestal made of marble place the piece in the center of the scene, ensuring a secluded place on the side of the apse.
Are you interested in this project?
At Granda we seek to encourage devotion. Personalising each piece and giving unity to all the elements helps to inculturation, to transmit the message and to move the devotion of the faithful.
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