Santa Ysabel Indian Mission was founded on September 20, 1818 in the mountains east of San Diego (near the village of Elcuanan), as a sub-mission to Mission San Diego de Alcalá, to serve as a rest stop for those traveling between San Diego and Sonora (located in Northwest Mexico). According to the mission’s administration, the surroundings are still much like those, found by the first missionaries of almost 200 years ago.
St. John The Babtist Catholic Church
There is nothing left of the original asistencia however and in 1924 the San Ysabel chapel was dedicated and sits near the site of the original adobe.
Inside St. John The Babtist Catholic Church
The Church’s Stained Glass Windows
Mystery of the Lost Bells
After the Mission began to deteriorate in the 1830s, the mission’s two bells, the oldest bells in California, made in 1723 and 1767, inscribed “N.S. De Loreto 1723” and “San Pedro 1767”, were hoisted onto the yoke outside of the church building. In 1926 the bells disappeared without a trace and for 40 years sightings were reported, but the bells never turned up. The day after they disappeared, a local named Jose Maria Osuna found the clappers (bell ringers) and took them home for safekeeping. After Osuna’s death, the clappers were passed down to others, until they were eventually returned to the Mission in 1959. In 1966, a remnant of one of the bells was discovered; details regarding where and how it was found have never been revealed.