Mission Ruins

Anthony Quartuccio


My primary interest was to sketch and paint as many missions and ruins as I could find and time would permit. There are some 30 to 36 missions, depending on how they are listed.

Catholic missionaries established the Baja California missions from 1697 to 1768. With their crumbling adobe walls, most of the missions are now just remnants of the past. Others are only locations and names on a map.

Other than their historical significance, there is no reason to visit these sites. In fact, several are located in remote mountain areas, barely accessible by dirt roads.

Other misssions such as San Ignacio, San Javier and Santa Rosalia are well preserved and still active. A few others are awaiting restoration.


Mission San Fernando Velicata

This was one mission I really enjoyed sketching. I have always admired Padre Junipero Serra who established the Alta California missions. San Fernando Velicata is the only Franciscan mission in Baja California built by the padre and was established on May 14th, 1768. The mission supported 600 Christian Cochimie Indians with farm products, cattle, sheep, and goats.

I rambled up and down the rocky cactus covered hill to get a better view of the ruins. One perspective over the cardon cactus offered a scenic panorama of the valley.

Although it is located in the midst of arid country, the mission site was well chosen. Patches of greenery stand beside a small stream in stark contrast to the brown rugged hills in the background. At the far end of the valley, a blue lagoon refreshes the eye and spirit. Water is very scarce in these parts.

After finishing my sketch, I dusted off my clothes, removed my shoes and socks and soaked my feet in the cool water, perhaps as many had before me.


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