Canticle of the Sun: Archaeoastronomy and Solar Eucharistic Worship in the Millennial New World

Please join us on Thursday, September 18, at 7:30 p.m. at Cabrillo College’s Sesnon House for “Canticle of the Sun:  Archaeoastronomy and Solar Eucharistic Worship in the Millennial New World,” with Dr. Ruben Mendoza of California State University, Monterey Bay.

On the first winter sunrise of the 21st century, college Professor Ruben Mendoza and a handful of others were witnesses to an amazing sight at the old Spanish Mission San Juan Bautista. Just as the sun rose, it bathed the altar of the mission in a blaze of sunlight. The sun had risen in the saddle between two hills, shone through a window in the mission church and cast an intense column of light directly on the tabernacle on the altar, the center of the Roman Catholic sacrifice of the Mass. They were gathered for what has come to be known as an “illumination,” a brief, breathtaking interval when a sunbeam penetrates the church’s front window to bathe the altar and the sacred objects around it in a blazing patch of light. The mission perched at the edge of the San Andreas fault sees it but once a year.

Dr. Rubén G. Mendoza is an archaeologist, writer, photographer, and founding faculty member of the California State University, Monterey Bay. He has directed major archaeological and historical investigations at missions San Juan Bautista, San Carlos Borromeo, San Miguel Arcángel, Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, and the sixteenth-century Ex-Convento de la Concepción in Puebla, Mexico. His efforts on behalf of the Royal Presidio Chapel Conservation Project were awarded the California Preservation Foundation Preservation Design Award for 2009. He has published over 125 professional articles and books, as well as reviews, commentaries, and scores of published images spanning pre-Columbian, Colonial, and California mission-era art and architecture and solar geometry, American Indian science, technology, and medicine, and modern material cultures.

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