The California Missions | Melba Levick and Dr. Rubén G. Mendoza - Rancho La Puerta
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The California Missions | Melba Levick and Dr. Rubén G. Mendoza

Week of February 2, 2019

Professor Rubén G. Mendoza and Photographer Melba Levick will chronicle the origins and development of the just launched Rizzoli International book titled The California Missions.  The book, whose very idea was borne of Melba’s love of the California missions, and an earlier project with Chronicle Books, was prompted by discussions between her and an acquaintance, an anthropologist who recommended that she make contact with California missions’ archaeologist and expert Dr. Rubén Mendoza as soon as possible. The book soon took flight, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Saint Junípero Serra & the Dream of California, Dr. Rubén G. Mendoza Archaeologist, writer, photographer, and adventurer Professor Rubén G. Mendoza will address the events leading to, and culminating with, the Papal Canonization of San Junípero Serra, OFM. He will address the controversial Canonization from the standpoint of an archaeologist and historian with long experience in that work needed to address the contested histories of the California missions. More specifically, he will draw on an insider’s perspective regarding just how the process unfolded during the year of the Serra Canonization, which was preceded by the Serra Symposium and Papal Mass at the Vatican, and Pope Francis’ subsequent visit to the US. This presentation will be fully illustrated with images from archaeological and historical field investigations leading to the Papal invitation for the speaker’s participation in the Serra Symposium, and will include images from the Serra Mass in Vatican City, and the subsequent Papal visit to the US for the Serra Canonization and the barrage of media coverage that ensued.


Dr. Rubén G. Mendoza is an archaeologist, writer, photographer and founding faculty member of the California State University, Monterey Bay. He is the current Chair of the CSU Monterey Bay School of Social, Behavioral & Global Studies, and has directed major archaeological investigations at the Spanish and Indian missions of San Juan Bautista, San Carlos Borromeo, San Miguel Arcángel, and La Soledad. His groundbreaking work at the Spanish Royal Presidio of Monterey resulted in the discovery of the Serra Chapels of 1770 and 1772. He has published over one-hundred and fifty professional articles and books, as well as reviews, commentaries, and scores of published images spanning Precolumbian, Colonial, and California missions’ era art and architecture. In 2012, he served as a special consultant to the National Park Service (San Antonio Missions National Historical Park) application process leading to the successful UNESCO World Heritage Listing of the San Antonio missions. In April 2015, he was invited as an expert witness to testify before the Serra Symposium convened at the Augustinaeum in Vatican City, Rome, and on May 2nd was special guest for a Pontifical Mass and tribute to the Blessed Junípero Serra with Pope Francis and the seminarians of the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City. In 2016, the California Missions Foundation awarded him the prestigious Norman Neuerburg Award for his contributions to the preservation of the California and Southwest missions.