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June 5, 2016 - Today we drove south to Pala to attend the 200th anniversary celebration of the Pala Mission.  The San Antonio de Pala Asistencia, or the "Pala Mission", was founded by Padre Antonio Peyri on June 13, 1816 as an Asistencia ("sub-mission") to the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia.  Today it is located in the Pala Indian Reservation located in northern San Diego County, with the official name of Mission San Antonio de Pala.  It is the only historic mission facility still serving a Mission Indian tribe.  The Holy Mass is celebrated daily.

Its chapel is both rustic and beautiful.

However the chapel is relatively small and it couldn't accommodate all of today's expected guests, which we guessed to be at least a thousand in total.  Mass was performed outside in front of the Mission Bell Tower and was officiated by the Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy, Bishop of San Diego.  The liturgy of the Mass and the songs that were sung was almost entirely  in Spanish.

After Mass on each anniversary there is a procession through the Pala Village that surrounds the Mission.  The purpose of the procession is to drive out any evil spirits that may be corrupting the lives of the villagers.  It was lead by a team of horses and everyone was invited to join in.

Flower petals lined the entire route.

Bishop McElroy is to right and is flanked by members of the San Diego Chapter of the Knights of Columbus.

It was a beautiful event that was colorful, moving and fun.  When the Mission was originally finished in 1816, it is said that Padre Peyri climbed the tower and planted a cactus to symbolize Christ conquering the desert (both in California and the human heart and soul).  If it is true, that same cactus still grows here today.

After the procession headed out into the village, we left and went to the Pala Casino for some lunch and gambling.  We both had a cream of tomato soup that was outstanding, with a grilled cheese sandwich on the side.  I lost a couple bucks but Judy came out a winner.  It was a great day!

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