What makes this so unique is it will be the first time ever that the renowned Capella Giulia of St. Peter's Basilica or Julian Choir, better known as the Vatican Choir, will perform in the United States. It derives its name from its founder, Pope Julius II, the 216th successor in the line of Peter who completed the construction of the Basilica of Saint Peter, convened the eighteenth Ecumenical Council and was a great connoisseur of the arts. One of his contributions, in fact one of his final legacies before he died on February 21, 1513 was to found the Cappella Giulia ensemble with the specific purpose of providing a vehicle exclusively for Italian men to exhibit their soprano, alto, bass and other range voices in melodius harmony for the honor and glory of God. Today they do not have to be Italian, though the majority still are such as many generational, with their ancestors having sung in the choir hundreds of years ago. Pope Julian, born in Savona, Italy, found it necessary, because of his love for the arts and his Italian roots, to foster Italian music in the face of other cultural music that was permeating the Vatican. When he began the choir, America was still a non-entity, rather a land of legend that was just reaching the ears of the Renaissance people in Italy. The Franciscans were going strong but one who would leave his mark on the California coast of this new land - Blessed Junipero Serra was still exactly 200 years from being born.
Now, 485 years after Julian's proclamation of the new choir they are finally coming to the United States. In fact, it is the first time ever the choir has left European soil! Though Blessed Serra did not actually found the San Luis Rey Mission in 1798, for he died on August 28, 1784, he had spoken often of it and planted the seeds of establishing a mission in Oceanside through his able assistant Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen,who, on June 13, 1798 established San Luis Rey as the eighteenth mission in California. It soon became known as the "King of the Missions." Serra established the first California Mission in 1769 at Mission Alcala in San Diego and passed over the site of the future San Luis Rey Mission, but the unrest among the Indians there prevented him from establishing the mission there at the time. He "bookmarked" it and traveled on to San Carlos, the second of 21 missions to be established. Over the next fifteen years he would trek up and down California establishing and revisiting missions he had established with his faithful friar Fr. Lasuen with him.
Today the mission still resembles the majestic structure Lasuen envisioned and it will be echoing with the Choir's rhythms via a Joseph Haydn Mass on June 13 celebrated by Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego. Conductor Levine, no stranger to the Holy See, claims the Vatican Choir "is the musical heart and soul of St. Peter's." He sites that the choir performs there every Sunday once during Holy Mass. Levine's paths have crossed the Holy Father's numerous times, the first in 1987 when he was appointed artistic director and principal conductor for the Polish city of John Paul II's birth - the Krakow Philharmonic. The Holy Father has kept in touch with Levine over the years, most recently sending congratulatory wishes on the occasion of his son's barmitzvah.
The concept for the Vatican Choir, which Levine had always wanted to bring to the states, evolved from a plane trip he took. There next to him was an ad exec from Orange County who talked about doing something to really promote the Mission's bicentennial. Levine knew just the ticket and the rest, as they say, will be history...bringing history to this historic mission - nearly five hundred years of history. Yes, it truly will be an historic event when this historic choir, in a historic first, belts forth in song the melodious refrains - all for His honor and glory! We'll be there Saturday along with thousands of others. When was the last time you arrived at the church two hours before Mass was to begin? That's what we'll need to do if we're to get a parking space and seating room either in the small confined old mission church or in the more spacious Serra Center which will be equipped with closed circuit screens and monitors for the Mass and performance, much like the Marian Conferences do with the priests bringing Holy Communion over from the church to distribute to the faithful gathered among the overflow for this very special Mass. Saint Anthony is not only the patron saint of the poor, but also of finding lost things. On the former we definitely qualify, especially if you read Cyndi's article today in Symphony of Suffering. As for the latter, our hope and prayer is that all in attendance will recover that tradition of reverence and liturgical excellence that has filled St. Peter's for nearly five centuries, edifying millions and encouraging them to enhance their faith and join the chorus of angels in a musical tribute to God. After all, what would move you to greater edification? The modern strained strains of the over-used and abused "One Bread, One Body" and/or "Gather us in" or the melodious tones of the celestial concerto echoing forth from the dulcet tones of the world-famous Vatican Choir? We know what the Popes like, and we're in agreement. And if you can tune into Vatican Radio on the web, you'll also have the benefit of hearing these phenomenal choristers perform. Once you hear them, you'll agree: It's a unanimous thumbs up for the Vatican Choir!
August 25, 1297
Feast day of St. Louis IX, King of France (April 25, 1215-Aug. 25, 1270)
July 18, 1769
Spanish get first glimpse of San Luis Rey Valley. Friar Juan Crespi, a member of the expedition en route to Monterey from San Diego, describes it as "so green that it seemed to us that it had been planted." The valley was named "San Juan Capistrano" and earmarked as a site for future mission. Almost 30 years went by before the valley was renamed.
February 27, 1798
Spanish Gov. Diego Borica orders the commander of the San Diego presidio to supply a guard and soldiers to support the building of a mission on this site. Mission San Juan Capistrano was already established n 1776 so the new mission is to be called San Luis Rey de Francia.
June 13, 1798
Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen celebrates the first mass on the site of Mission San Luis Rey on the feast day of Saint Anthony of Padua. Attendees include Father Antonio Peyri, the first Franciscan guardian, several soldiers and members of the San Luis Rey band of Luiseno Mission Indians.
October 4, 1815
Mission church is finally completed and dedicated on the Feast of St. Francis.
San Antonio de Pala asistencia is established to accommodate Native Americans who live farther away from the mission.
March 20, 1829
Mexico expels all males under 60 of Spanish birth. Father Peyri applies for passport to return to Spain but is allowed to stay for a transition period.
Pepper tree arrives from Peru.
January 17, 1832
Father Peyri leaves the mission and sails to Mexico aboard the U.S. ship "Pocahontas" from San Diego. He is accompanied by two Luiseno neophytes, Pablo Tac and Agapito Amamix. The latter dies a short while later in Rome.
Pablo Tac, who dies in 1841 at age 19, writes about his life at Mission San Luis Rey.
August 22, 1935
Mission inventory is surrendered to Mexican Gov. Pio Pico.
Friar Francisco Ibarra dies and is buried in the mission church. May 18, 1846
Gov. Pico sells the mission for $2,437.
Father Jose Marie Zalvidea, the last of the Spanish padres to live at the mission, dies and is buried in the church.
Capt. John Fremont assigns John Bidwell to secure the mission and surrounding property after the U.S.-Mexico War.
Kit Carson and Capt. Stephen Kearney cap at Mission San Luis Rey.
January 2, 1847
Capt. Kearny's U.S. troops arrive at the mission.
January 27, 1847
U.S. Mormon battalion arrives after overland march from Midwest.
April 10, 1849
U.S. Army squadron from Los Angeles arrives to prepare military living quarters at the mission.
Almost two years after California becomes a state, the U.S. Boundary Commission arrives at Mission San Luis Rey to assess property and determine ownership.
March 18, 1865
President Abraham Lincoln signs documents restoring ownership of the mission to the Roman Catholic Church.
Mission San Luis Rey is opened to exiled friars from Zacatecas, Mexico. Father Joseph Jeremiah O'Keefe is assigned to the mission as guardian to serve as liaison between the Mexican refugees and the St. Barbara Province and becomes the "rebuilder of the mission." Work begins immediately on temporary housing for the Mexican novices undergoing training at the mission.
May 12, 1893
The mission church is rededicated. More than 300 people, including several elderly Luisenos, attend.
Repairs are made to the church.
March 19, 1903
The Mexican Franciscans return to Mexico and no longer use the novitiate provided for them at Mission San Luis Rey.
Permanent living quarters are built. The buildings form a small quadrangle about one-fourth the size of the original six-acre quadrangle.
July 24, 1912
The general chapter of the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart, based in St. Louis, receives the mission into its care.
September 18, 1912
Father O'Keefe leaves the mission after 19 years of leading the mission through several rebuilding phases.
July 25, 1913
The statue of San Luis Rey is blessed and hoisted into its niche over the main entrance to the church.
The Sisters of the Precious Blood arrive to open a parochial school.
September 15, 1913
The school opens.
March 14, 1914
Rebuilt mortuary chapel is dedicated.
November 15, 1915
New quarters are blessed for the school.
August 13, 1915
Friar O'Keefe dies at Santa Barbara.
Bell tower, damaged by earlier earthquake, collapses in heavy rains.
New bell tower dedicated.
January 12, 1928
Friars' vault is blessed in cemetery.
Academy of the Little Flower opens.
February 13, 1931
After a year of work, a new roof, ceiling beams and cupola are added to the church by Friar Ferdinand Ortiz. The new construction continues Friar O'Keef's efforts to restores the church closer to the original built by Friar Peyri.
May 25, 1934
A new kitchen is completed.
An Historic American Buildings Survey is taken at the mission.
June 2, 1949
Ground is broken for construction of the San Luis Rey Franciscan College to be built on the foundation of the original west and north wings of the mission quadrangle.
June 15, 1950
The new college dormitories and classrooms are dedicated.
Television's "Zorro" series is filmed at Mission San Luis Rey.
Soldiers' barracks and lavanderia (laundry) are excavated.
The college closes.
Because of its architectural features, Mission San Luis Rey Church is designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The retreat center opens.
Ed Gabarra, first secular executive director hired. Nine-member board of directors established.
San Luis Rey Parish opens Serra Center.
June 13, 1998
200th Anniversary of San Luis Rey Mission, celebrated by the Bishop and the first performance ever by the Vatican Choir outside of Europe!
Our Catholic Faith has a "heart," also, which is NECESSARY for its LIFE, STRENGTH and SUSTENANCE. It isnít visible or "felt" like the human heart, but it is every bit as important and even more so. Why? Because spiritual things are more REAL than material things and because the "heart" of our Faith is more than a part of our body, "IT" is a Person... the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, God made Man, Who is Jesus Christ.
I am speaking about the Holy Eucharist, the consecrated Host which at the words of a priest at Mass, "This is My Body,..." becomes Jesus - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. This Mystery, this Truth, this Doctrine of the Church which dates back to the Last Supper, is the HEART of our Faith.
Without Faith in Our Lordís Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, a personís faith is Life-less. It is without meaning and superficial.
There is an element within the Church today which seeks to proclaim the Holy Eucharist, the consecrated Host, as only a SYMBOL. I heard one priest tell me that we are not cannibals, we do not eat human flesh. My answer is: Father, you are correct, we are NOT cannibals, for cannibals eat dead meat. Jesus is ALIVE and because Love desires union and Jesus wants to be as close to us as possible, He gave us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink, just as He stated in the Scriptures.
For any Catholic, be he priest or lay person, to deny the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is to deny this Sacrament as a Sacrament of Love, is to fail to recognize that we are greatly loved by God, that God wishes to be an integral part of our lives. It is to remove the HEART of our religion out of our Faith, which then cannot survive.
I often say: I want to love SOMEONE, not a symbol. What symbol is meaningful enough for me, as a consecrated religious, to give my whole life to "its" service? How "cold" a "symbol" can be!! How "warm" LOVE is Himself!
Satan is striking at the HEART of Catholic Faith. "To be forewarned is to be forearmed."
Every day make an Act of Faith in Our Lordís Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Donít let anyone talk you into believing the Holy Eucharist is only a symbol.
We will all come Face to face with the Son of God some day. Let us profess our Faith in His Real Presence while on this earth. Then in Heaven "Faith" will not be necessary for we shall "possess" Him in Whom we have believed.
God bless you!