On the north side of the mission, you can’t miss the large wrought-iron cemetery gates framed by tiles painted with welcoming skulls. Aside from tombstones and a few elevated monuments, this large, flat, walled block of land isn’t very inviting; benches for reflecting are as few as shade trees. The prettier burial grounds are inside the mission’s walls ($5 charge). Woven through the courtyards and shaded patios are the final resting places of modern-day priests who served the mission, as well as older graves marked by antique wrought-iron gates framed by giant grapevine trunks. A big marble bench connotes the grave of mission manager Eulalia Perez, the first individual to receive an Alta California land grant from Spain (although she was beset by swindlers and lost nearly all of it). It’s definitely worth the $5 to see the mission at final rest. A small sign reports that 6,000 Gabrielinos are buried here, too, which seems yet another insult to the people who were subsumed – and all but forgotten – by California’s mission system.
427 S. Junipero Serra Dr., San Gabriel, 626.457.3035, sangabrielmission.org.