On a recent photo shoot of the Mission San Gabriel Archangel, I was able to capture some rather significant images of the original Mission Church.  Construction began on the Old Mission Church in 1791 and was finally completed in 1805.

You may recall my earlier visit to Mission San Juan Capistrano, where I was unable to capture authentic images of the mission church due to problematic lighting conditions.  Desiring to utilize the natural light, the church at Mission San Juan Capistrano was much too dark.  Out of respect for others who may be experiencing the beauty of these great structures, I declined the use of any flash apparatus.

However, the architectural design of the elongated windows in the Mission San Gabriel Archangel Mission Church allowed for exceptional lighting at this particular time of the day, as you can readily see by this image.

Mission San Gabriel Archangel, Original Mission Church - San Gabriel, California

Mission San Gabriel Arcángel has been historically referred to as the “Godmother of the Pueblo of Los Angeles.” Designed by Father Antonio Cruzado of Córdoba, Spain.  Father Cruzado is responsible for lending the Mission structure its Moorish architectural influence as evidenced by the capped buttresses and the tall, narrow windows along its nave. In its size and grandeur, Mission San Gabriel makes a statement among the Missions of California.

The Mission church was built from 1791 to 1805 of cut stone, brick, and mortar  and is the oldest structure of its kind south of Monterey, CA.   From 1987 to 1993, the structure was fully restored to repair damage from the 1987 Whittier earthquake.  The retrofitting project netted the Mission the Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award in 1994.

The fourth of the 21 California missions founded,  the Mission is rich in the history and traditions of early California. In the early mission era, it became known as the “Pride of the Missions” for its large production of crops and trading of cattle hides and wine.  Some of this history has been preserved for viewing in the church, museum, and grounds.

San Gabriel Mission has been designated as California Historical Landmark #158.


~ by photographyfree4all on May 9, 2011.

8 Responses to “MISSION SAN GABRIEL ARCHANGEL – Mission Church”

  1. Wow!! That is totally gorgeous inside!! Also, I love the name of the church. 🙂


  2. Thank you, Kuukisu! I really thought it was beautiful. I think because the colors were more vivid in the natural light. It was just such a quiet and serene place when I was there. I think that’s why I don’t feel comfortable firing off a bunch of flash shots in there. If you look closely, you can see a lady who was deep into her thoughts/prayers as she moved around the front area.


  3. Gorgeous shot! I love the way the two colors seem to be completely independent.


  4. Thanks, Chris! It’s encouraging that you stopped by today! I hope you’ll check in again, soon!


  5. Beautiful, the church and your photo. Just a little FYI from an amateur photographer who is a Catholic: Photography is typically not allowed in Catholic churches when the Blessed Sacrament is in repose in the tabernacle (the gold box on the altar). If the Blessed Sacrament is in repose within the tabernacle, then silent reverence is proper and that is what the lady in the photo is probably displaying. Typically, when photography (or other non-worship activity) is to be done, the Blessed Sacrament will be removed to a side chapel or other suitable location until the photographer (or other non-worship activity) is finished. One does not always find that the people in charge of the space follow that, some probably have never been told and some probably persist in their ways in spite of being told. But I would be remiss if I didn’t pass it along to you. I’m enjoying your photography and your blog. And your revelations about your journey. God bless you, Steve. 🙂


  6. Forgot to mention how you can tell if the Blessed Sacrament is in repose in the tabernacle: the light will be lit in the red lamp in the sanctuary beside the altar. No burning red lamp, no Blessed Sacrament in repose. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, anyway. 🙂


  7. I appreciate what you are saying here. You will not find a more respectful person that I am when it comes to my photography. In fact, I was the one who waited while others flashed their cameras and moved about the chapel. I waited and watched, then shot my image without the use of a flash. I understand that you are not making reference to a flash, but I say that to depict my respect. I am not sure what was happening in this particular image, but I watched for some time in my attempt to determine what was happening with respect to the proper protocol for photography. Please accept my apologies if I have offended you. It was not my intention.


  8. Oh, I’m not offended, just saying what proper protocol really is. The Blessed Sacrament is the Real Presence of Christ. We take that very seriously. At the Shrine in Hanceville (up the road from where I live) they allow no photography in the church & have a sign to inform visitors. Not every Catholic Church displays a sign & not every caretaker follows protocol. Some mistakenly think it old-fashioned & therefore no longer necessary. But you seem like a respectful sort and I wanted you to know the scoop. 🙂


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