Gravestones at Pioneer Park in Mission Hills.

Pioneer Park is a city park in Mission Hills that’s popular with neighborhood families and children. It features a playground, green grass, many shady trees . . . and well over a thousand unseen graves. If you don’t wander into the southeast corner of the park, you might never know it’s also a cemetery.

Pioneer Park was originally Calvary Cemetery. The Catholic cemetery was established in the 1870s, then converted a century later into a Mission Hills community park. According to this article: “All the 800-odd memorial markers were taken away in the 1970s except for a line of tombstones left on the park’s edge. Left as a memorial, they’re still there…” Sadly, the gravestones that had been removed were callously dumped by those then living into a ravine at distant Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Many of San Diego’s earliest residents remain buried under the grass at Pioneer Park. Even after the passage of many years, surviving gravestones show historically important names like Cave Johnson Couts and Father Antonio Ubach. But all of the names are gradually fading away. Time does that.

Six nearby plaques list the names of those who are interred in the park, and it is said there might be many more.

On any given day, life goes on cheerfully above the grass. And beneath it lie the remains of those who once lived, dreamed, toiled and loved exactly like you and me.

Here are some photographs, to provoke thought, and to help preserve a little history…

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More colorful art near National Avenue!

During my walk through Barrio Logan last Saturday, I enjoyed looking at many colorful works of art on or near National Avenue.

These photos are of artwork I hadn’t seen previously.

The first three photos, including the one above, were taken of a beautiful new mural decorating a wall and fence on National Avenue, right next to Chicano Park.

Juan Diego opening his cloak, revealing that flowers had miraculously produced the Virgin of Guadalupe’s image, is a religious account cherished by many Catholic believers, particularly those in Mexico.

Next, I saw a number of vivid paintings in the windows of the Attitude Brewing Co. I believe all were signed by artist Paco Racru. They appear to be for sale.

Here are two of the paintings. Reflections from the street are mixed in…

The very colorful mural and graffiti you see in the next two photos can be found at the Travelodge on Beardsley Street.

This eye-catching street art is signed @icygrapestudios, which is the handle of artist Brock Landers.

And finally, laugh at something funny! Is that a raccoon on a bicycle? Whatever it is, it’s on the front of the Thorn Brewing Co. building.

And it’s by William Salas (@inkpaint)!

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Mother Teresa mural expresses unconditional love.

A beautiful mural depicting Mother Teresa expresses the potency of unconditional love.

Roman Catholic nun and missionary Saint Teresa of Calcutta stands in a field of grain and flowers holding a small orphaned child. White doves raise a banner containing the words: “Saint Mother Teresa never judged people, she took more time to love them.”

Indeed, Mother Teresa and her sisters devoted themselves to loving and aiding the poorest of the poor, providing comfort for those suffering with leprosy, AIDS and other awful diseases, caring for those who lived in hopeless situations of homelessness and extreme hunger.

She loved those whom others would not love.

Would any of us do that?

This gentle but extremely powerful mural was painted in San Diego, California, in the Memorial neighborhood of Logan Heights. You can find it in an alley off 30th Street, north of Franklin Avenue.

The mural was painted recently by the artists of Arte Atolondrada. To visit their website, click here!

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Hidden historical marker near Mission San Diego.

There’s an important historical marker near Mission San Diego de Alcalá that very few people know about or see. It’s located on private property along San Diego Mission Road, just inside the grounds of a condo complex. You can find it a short distance east of the mission, on some grass behind a fence, very close to the San Diego River.

I was able to take zoom photos of the “hidden” marker and its bronze plaque from the sidewalk.

The words read:

Padre Luis Jayme, Pastor of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was martyred near this site November 5, 1775. Father Jayme had asked that the Mission be moved to its present site from Presidio Hill in order to better grow foods for the Mission.

In this area the Mission padres produced grapes, olives and other farm products for the Indian and Spanish communities.

Also near this site a small structure housed the guard from the Royal Presidio, which served as escort and guard for the Mission padres.

The historical marker was placed where Father Jayme’s body was found. He was killed by a large force of native people, said to be Yuman Indians from distant villages, in an uprising in 1775, about a year after the nearby mission was built. The mission was pillaged and set on fire. Survivors of the attack fled to the Presidio, six miles away down the river.

Over the centuries Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first Spanish mission in California, has been rebuilt several times. The remains of Father Luis Jayme are entombed under the floor next to the altar in the present church.

Looking west down San Diego Mission Road. The mission is located on the hillside beyond those trees..

The nearby San Diego River, where it is crossed by San Diego Mission Road…

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A look at Our Lady of Angels in Sherman Heights.

Whenever I drive along California State Route 94, just east of downtown San Diego, I can’t help noticing a yellow church with a tall, old-fashioned steeple rising south of the highway. So I finally decided to take a walk through Sherman Heights to have a better look.

According to this, the Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church originated in 1905. A plaque by the front entrance reads: Church of Our Lady of Angels 1906. I suppose that’s the year of the building’s dedication. I tried to do a little online research, but I can’t find much about the building’s history.

As you can see, the church has a quaint but very distinctive appearance. It is said to be one of San Diego’s best examples of Gothic Revival architecture. (To me, seen from its front, the church appears like an angular yellow rocket!)

Our Lady of Angels stands in the historic old neighborhood of Sherman Heights, which today is filled with numerous picturesque Victorian houses, many of which exist in a state of semi-decay. Our Lady of Angels was San Diego’s second Catholic parish.

I didn’t venture beyond the angelic front doors of the church. The colorful building appeared to be closed the day I walked around it.

Enjoy some photos!

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Photos of Our Lady of Guadalupe Procession.

Catholics from across a large area of Southern California gathered today on B Street by San Diego City College for a special event. The many parishes of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego took part in the annual Procession to Honor Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In the late morning I watched as the faithful gathered just east of Park Boulevard. The annual procession would head west to Civic Center Plaza, where a ceremony would take place.

I took some photos as people busily prepared each parish float, attaching religious banners, flowers, flags, and a special spot where a young lady would pose as a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Then the procession began down B Street, into the heart of downtown.

I saw colorful Aztec dancers, and black-garbed priests, and the Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego, and smiling queens, and joyous mariachis and baile folklórico dancers.

Members of Catholic churches across San Diego County and beyond walked behind the parish floats, singing and rejoicing and holding banners, celebrating the miracle appearance of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, all those years ago outside Mexico City.

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Radiant Spire proposed for Notre Dame.

Appearance of rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral with Radiant Spire, designed by architect Eugene Ray.
Appearance of rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral with Radiant Spire, designed by San Diego architect Eugene Ray.

I guess it’s too late now. Last month the French Parliament passed a law that states Notre Dame Cathedral must be restored to its exact condition before the recent, catastrophic fire.

But how might Paris have appeared if Notre Dame were crowned by a glowing spire?

The Radiant Spire is a fantastic concept created by architect Eugene Ray, who from 1969 to 1996 headed the Environmental Design program at San Diego State University. In 2019, with the help of architect Joe Cordelle, he designed a geodesic structure that unites a cone and sphere, and which radiates light.

I saw these images today while visiting the exhibition Radiant Architecture: The Visionary Work of Eugene Ray at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. As a proposal the Radiant Spire is inspiring and very beautiful.

But, alas, it will remain an idea.

Description of Radiant Spire for Notre Dame Cathedral. The elegant structure evokes an exuberant spirituality reaching skywards...
Description of Radiant Spire for rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral. The elegant structure evokes an exuberant spirituality reaching skywards…

Elevation view of proposed spire for Notre Dame.
Elevation view of proposed spire for Notre Dame.

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History and faith at St. Agnes Catholic Church.

On Saturday I stepped inside St. Agnes Catholic Church. It was one of three sites I visited in Point Loma during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

Donna Alves-Calhoun, author of the book Portuguese Community of San Diego, told me a little about the history of this church and the people whose lives are deeply linked to it.

I learned that an original church was built in 1908 by Portuguese fisherman families that had settled in La Playa, near the entrance to San Diego Bay. It was difficult for them to travel to Old Town or La Jolla to attend church services, so they built a small mission church in Point Loma.

In 1933 the new Mediterranean-style St. Agnes Catholic Church was built at the same location, using funds donated by the crews of local fishing boats.

The beautiful church’s bell tower was decorated with an illuminated statue of Our Lady of Good Voyage, which could be seen at a distance. Like a beacon it guided the Portuguese fishermen safely home. I also learned the extraordinary stained glass windows were made in Ireland, and the religious statues placed in corners of the church are from Italy.

After I moved around the church, looking up at the ceiling and its dark wooden beams painted faintly with tulips, Donna explained that many Dutch settled in the Azores. Like many who have descended from San Diego’s Portuguese fishermen, she herself possesses a measure of Dutch ancestry.

During the annual Festa do Espírito Santo celebration, a crown kept in a glass case near the altar, symbol of the supreme dominion of the Holy Spirit, is brought with other holy objects in a ceremonial procession from the U.P.S.E.S. Chapel and Hall to St. Agnes Catholic Church. The bringing of the “Coroa” remembers an historical gesture of compassion by Portugal’s beloved Santa Isabel, the Peacemaker and Holy Queen.

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Inside the historic Portuguese U.P.S.E.S. Chapel.

Today I enjoyed a look inside a beautiful Catholic chapel in Point Loma. The historic U.P.S.E.S. Chapel, located on Avenida de Portugal, was open to curious visitors for the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

The small, nearly one hundred year old chapel stands in a neighborhood that once was the home to many Portuguese tuna fishermen. Many families that have descended from these seafaring fishermen still call this part of San Diego their home.

U.P.S.E.S. comes from União Portuguesa Açoreana Sociedade do Espírito Santo, which in English means the United Portuguese Azorean Society of the Holy Spirit.

According to the U.P.S.E.S. website, this building “was completed and inaugurated in 1922. The design of the Chapel is a facsimile of those that exist on the island of Terceira, Azores and follows the design of the chapels of that era. The interior reflects the design of the chapels that were found in the tuna vessels of that era. Today, as it was intended in 1922, the Chapel is used to house the Crown of the Holy Spirit during the Festa do Espirito Santo celebrations. On Pentecost Sunday, devotees of the Holy Spirit visit the Chapel to pray and offer a donation of money or Portuguese sweetbread to assure the continuation of this time honored ethnic religious celebration.”

The chapel stands adjacent to the United Portuguese SES Hall, directly across the street from the Portuguese Historical Center.

After walking up some steps and looking at memory-filled commemorative pavers, I stepped inside the chapel and took photos of its modest, elegantly beautiful interior.

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Photos of North Park’s Day of the Dead festival!

The 2nd Annual Day of the Dead North Park Festival had a couple blocks of Ray Street overflowing with color and life!
The 2nd Annual Day of the Dead North Park Festival had a couple blocks of Ray Street overflowing with color and life!

Today I checked out the Day of the Dead festival in North Park!

The annual festival, which is only in its second year, was held on two blocks of Ray Street just south of University Avenue. I couldn’t believe the size of the crowd enjoying this relatively modest event celebrating Día de los Muertos!

All of the cherished Day of the Dead traditions could be found, including a large, beautiful altar and lots of face painting, and, of course, some elegantly dressed Catrinas strolling about. There was also abundant Mexican music, themed artwork and yummy food!

This is definitely a festival that should grow in popularity!

Many costumes celebrating Día de los Muertos (and also Halloween) could be seen about the fun North Park festival.
Many costumes celebrating Día de los Muertos (and also Halloween) could be seen about the fun North Park festival.

Boy poses for photo as a Day of the Dead skeleton with top hat.
Boy poses for photo as a Day of the Dead skeleton with top hat.

A traditional Día de los Muertos altar remembers loved ones who've passed from this life.
A traditional Día de los Muertos altar remembers loved ones who’ve passed from this life.

Kids and adults could color a calavera, or decorative skull.
Kids and adults could color a calavera, or decorative skull.

Lots of Day of the Dead themed merchandise could be found at various vendor booths about the festival.
Lots of Day of the Dead merchandise could be found at various vendor tables about the festival.

Some Día de los Muertos items for sale included Catrina dolls, orange marigolds and colorful calaveras.
Some Día de los Muertos items for sale included Catrina dolls, orange marigolds and colorful calaveras.

Many faces at the festival had been painted to resemble sugar skulls.
Many faces at the festival had been painted to resemble sugar skulls.

All sorts of characters from the popular culture have been transformed into Day of the Dead refrigerator magnets.
Characters from the popular culture have been transformed into these Day of the Dead refrigerator magnets!

I see a shirt with a Mexican lucha libre wrestling mask. Seems appropriate in this photo!
I see a hanging shirt printed with the image of a Mexican lucha libre mask. Seems appropriate in this photo!

Another small altar (or ofrenda) included photos of deceased loved ones, papel picado, and pan de muerto.
Another small altar (or ofrenda) includes photos of deceased loved ones, papel picado, and pan de muerto.

Mariachis performed joyful music for the crowd at one end of the city block.
Mariachis performed joyful music for the crowd at one end of the city block.

Día de los Muertos is celebrated in North Park. It's a new local tradition that promises to grow ever more popular!
Día de los Muertos is celebrated in North Park. It’s a new local tradition that promises to grow even more popular!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!