Many people go to see the California Missions for spiritual reflection and a relaxing stroll. Some go to take in the religious iconography and beautiful architecture. A few come away with memories far removed from the usual or perhaps normal experiences had by others, and vow never to return.
Even though the lovely buildings and gardens lend themselves to those who want to have their wedding photos taken there, the history behind the evolution of the Missions involves a dark past in terms of the abuse of Native Americans. Some Missions even have their own cemeteries on the grounds.
Good intentions and recompenses aside, the spirits of those who were unlucky or doomed by the treatment of the original founders are still demanding attention. Some are even willing to go beyond the occasional, ghostly appearance, so watch out if you decide to bite the bullet and find out for yourself. You never know, you might encounter the Devil himself.
Visit These 7 Haunted Missions in California At Your Peril
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7) Mission San Francisco Solano - Sonoma
There are many wonderful murals and paintings to see at this Mission - which is the last California mission trail - as well as an old chapel, a gift shop and a courtyard used to demonstrate replicas of the old life, such as making candles and food. The artifacts include some from the early Spanish era.
Even though there’s no cemetery, check out the grave plate in the chapel, where a demonic spirit will try to attach itself to you. Visitors report rumors of a battle between good and evil that occurred before it was rebuilt in 1906, after an earthquake which damaged the buildings. Wear your crucifix or rosary if you don't want a demonic hitchhiker.
6) Mission San Carlos de Borromeo, Carmel
Take a stroll through the large courtyard, after visiting the gift shop or viewing the artifacts on a self-guided tour. The church is still active, with midnight Mass available. Museums and statues will entrance you as you soak in the peaceful settings of the headquarters and resting place of Saint Junipero Serro.
His spirit is felt in other missions as he settled them with the help of the Native Americans, whose restless spirits continue to haunt the grounds. Try not to freak out when you hear the angry war cries and curses at sundown, like a battle between the so called saints and the Indigenous souls who are still fighting for justice in the afterlife.
5) Mission San Juan Capistrano - San Juan Capistrano
This Mission has 10 beautiful acres and the atmosphere is serene, where you can feed the fish in the Koi pond, enjoy concerts and festivals, learn about the history via audio tour, take in the architectural designs and learn about the history in several museums. It’s also home to the Capistrano swallows.
A not so pleasant factor involves the story of the main founder of the missions in California, called Saint Serra, who was not only an important character in the Spanish Inquisition, but also a believer in self-flagellation to chase away his sins. His history of abusing the Native Americans adds to his sinister sins.
As much as you will enjoy the many wonderful aspects of San Juan Capistrano Mission, the specter of a malicious flagellant could change your mind, as the crack of his whip isn’t necessarily aimed at his own back, with some visitors reporting sharp pains on their flesh after leaving the museum.
4) La Purisima Mission, Lompoc
Not an active church, this mission – unlike most other California missions - is a State Park with lots going on, in order to represent life back in the early days. Exhibits include the church, a village, barracks, pottery shop, rectory and even a burial site in the chapel. There’s also a museum and a Blacksmith shop.
Haunted by vengeful ghosts from the period of Spanish control and onwards, the La Purisima Mission has more than your standard attractions. Apart from some harmless spirits who seem to keep to themselves, there are rumors of occult practices still being practiced by rogue Priests.
People have reported seeing dark hooded figures moving around at night, so make sure not to disturb them for fear of incurring their wrath and Black Magic.
Peaceful gardens, historical artifacts, self-guided tours and statues of saints are only the beginning at Mission San Buenaventura. Having survived a fire, there are many stories about dark spirits roaming the grounds and the buildings. From a creepy ghost boy to a red haired hooker, they all have their own agendas.
Along with the occasional screams and the smell of burning flesh, the statues are said to show distorted facial expressions if you look at them for long enough. Be prepared for a variety of frightening apparitions and phenomena such as crosses falling off the walls.
A dark man has been seen, looking like he’s been through a fire, with a permanently disfigured face. His evil energies affect the things he walks past, so be sure not to get in his way.
2) Mission San Miguel Arcangel - San Miguel
Since 1821, the church and buildings have stood the tests of time. There are regular services held there and features include the bell tower entrance, rose gardens and a fountain filled with lotus flowers. There’s a vineyard out back and a cemetery next door, with 3 spirits haunting the Mission.
Mr. Reed, who bragged about hiding a stash of gold under the church, was killed by pirates. If you hear him whisper your name, he’ll possess you. Then there’s the Lady in White, whose footsteps are heard - with threats of damnation if you're not a true believer.
Even more frightening at Mission San Miguel Arcangel, is a red, horned figure, who comes and goes as he pleases. He is said to instill feelings of dread in those who see him. Some believe him to be the Devil himself.
1) Mission San Gabriel, San Gabriel
The San Gabriel Mission is the most beloved on the California missions list and considered deeply spiritual and emotionally evocative by those who visit. With well-kept gardens and lawns, a fountain, gift shop, and a baptistery, the church is devoted to Mother Mary – with a shrine devoted to her and several statues.
With reports of the scent of roses at times, visitors can also hear her gentle weeping at the shrine. There are rumors that the statues sometimes cry tears of blood – especially when wicked people stop by. Make sure you have a pure heart if you don’t want to see the blood flow.
What did you experience when you visited these Missions in California? Tell us in the comments below.