La La Land. No, not the movie, the place. There is a lot to see and do (and avoid) in this expansive city. Museums like the Getty Center contain some of the most beautiful religious artwork one can find Stateside. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels holds a number of treasures, such as a small relic of St. Juan Diego’s tilma as well as other relics from St. Teresa of Calcutta to Pope St. John XXIII. In short, there are a number of great places a Catholic can visit. However, there is one small place that is often overlooked that should be on every Pope St. John Paul II’s wish list.
Mission San Fernando isn’t one of the more popular California missions. In fact, few people would think to visit this mission unless they’re on a quest to visit all the Missions. This quiet and unassuming Mission is located in the city of Mission Hills a twenty-five minute drive northwest of the Cathedral. Just like all other Missions, it contains historical items that are part of the rich history of it as well as a gift shop. But what this Mission can boast that other missions can is that it was once visited by Pope St. John Paul II.
In his footsteps
There are a few places here in California in which you can walk in the same place where a saint once did. At Mission San Fernando, you can do just that. Pope St. John Paul II visited the Mission in 1987 while on a tour of Los Angeles. You can just imagine yourself walking in his footsteps as you tour the ground. You can view and get close to the chair on which he sat during Morning Prayer on his visit, in the Convento building. You can even read the speech he gave at the Mission, mere feet from where he stood, at the Mission’s chapel of ease.
But wait, there’s more
If that wasn’t enough, there are great things to see, even if you’re not a history buff. There is a relic of the veil of our Blessed Mother kept in the Madonna room, close to where the St. John Paul II souvenirs are kept in the Convento building. All you classical Hollywood film fans can also pay your respects to comedy legend, Bob Hope, who is buried alongside his wife, Dolores, in the Mission’s garden next to the chapel.
It costs only $5 to enter the Mission — a fee to help keep the Mission’s grounds — and it’s well worth the cost. Not only will you be able to say you’ve been in the same place a saint has, but the Mission is also truly an oasis that makes you forget that you’re in the suburbs of one of the largest cities in the world. Next time you’re in L.A. consider taking the trip to the Mission. Don’t forget to look for St. John Paul II’s coat of arms hidden behind the tree’s leaves fixed on the Mission’s anterior wall in the Mission’s parking lot.