The Cross of Caravaca

Another interesting thing I discovered at Mission San Juan Capistrano was the Cross of Caravaca.

Mission San Juan Capistrano was refounded by Junípero Serra in 1776, after an initial group left the city in 1775. Serra is called "the Father of California" because he planted missions up and down the California coast, naming many of the cities we know today. Serra was recently canonized by Pope Francis in 2015.

St. Serra wore and carried with him a distinctive crucifix from Mexico, the Cross of Caravaca. Legend has it that the Cross of Caravaca was the first Christian cross brought to Mexico. And the Cross of Caravaca was the one carried by Junípero Serra when he traveled from Mexico up through California.

Because of this, the cross is now a major element in Mexican and Mexican-American Catholic culture, the cross possessing special spiritual properties to grant prayers.

The Cross of Caravaca is a Patriarchal cross.

But the distinctive thing about the cross is that Jesus is nailed to the smaller, upper crossbar rather than the longer lower crossbar. Here's a bit about the history of the cross.

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