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The Mission entered a long period of gradual decline after Mexican government secularization in 1833. Restoration efforts continue, and "Serra's Chapel" is still used for religious services.Over 500,000 visitors, including 80,000 school children, come to the Mission each year.
More than 69 former inhabitants (mostly Juaneño Indian marked graves in the Mission's cemetery (campo santo). John O'Sullivan, who recognized the property's historic value and working tirelessly to conserve and rebuild its structures, are buried at the entrance to the cemetery on the west side of the property, and a statue raised in his honor stands at the head of the crypt.The surviving chapel also serves as the final resting place of three priests who passed on while serving at the Mission: José Barona, Vicente Fustér, and Vicente Pascual Oliva are all entombed beneath the sanctuary floor.The Criolla or "Mission grape," was first planted at San Juan Capistrano in 1779, and in 1783 the first wine produced in Alta California was from the Mission's winery. statehood, numerous efforts were made over the latter 19th century to restore the Mission to its former state, but none achieved much success until the arrival of O'Sullivan in 1910.The religious beliefs of the two groups as related to creation differed quite profoundly.The Playanos held that an all-powerful and unseen being called "Nocuma" brought about the earth and the sea, together with all of the trees, plants, and animals of sky, land, and water contained therein.