Saturday, November 7, 2009

San Diego ... My Town

San Diego is my town. Not only was I born here (and believe me, native San Diegans are a rare breed), but so was my mother and my grandfather. When we lived in the city, our home was only six blocks away from the home my grandfather grew up in.

Our family, the Quayle family (yes, we're somehow related to the former vice president, not sure how), moved to San Diego late in the year 1900. William Quayle started the architectural firm that had made him well-known in Peoria as a young man and for thirty years in Denver. When he died in 1906, his two sons, William and Edward (Edward is my great-great grandfather), picked up the architectural firm their father had started and began a reign of design that lasted until both brothers died within months of each other in 1940. Their designs include part of the now-famous Balboa Park, the North Park and Savoy Theatres, the downtown Police Station, the Balboa Stadium where the Chargers played until Jack Murphy (now Qualcomm) Stadium was built, and the Crown Room of the famous Hotel del Coronado.

My grandfather was born here in 1917, my mother in 1943. During World War II, my grandmother lived in a small bungalow with my infant mother, waiting for the war to bring her husband home; Keith and I lived in the same little home while I was in college and grad school, my mother's tiny footprints in the concrete step of our porch.

I have never lived anywhere else. Even now, in the mountains 50 miles east of downtown, I am a mere 45 minutes away from Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, the beach, Coronado, and all that warm and sunny San Diego has to offer. It's my town.

San Diego was founded by Cabrillo in 1549; the first of the famous California Missions was built here in 1769 and is still an active parish church. Yet San Diego was named for Saint Didacus, a little-known but very popular saint of the 16th and 17th centuries. Here is his story from

Didacus is living proof that God "chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong" (1 Corinthians 1:27).

As a young man in Spain, Didacus joined the Secular Franciscan Order and lived for some time as a hermit. After Didacus became a Franciscan brother, he developed a reputation for great insight into God’s ways. His penances were heroic. He was so generous with the poor that the friars sometimes grew uneasy about his charity.

Didacus volunteered for the missions in the Canary Islands and labored there energetically and profitably. He was also the superior of a friary there.

In 1450 he was sent to Rome to attend the canonization of St. Bernardine of Siena. When many friars gathered for that celebration fell sick, Didacus stayed in Rome for three months to nurse them. After he returned to Spain, he pursued a life of contemplation full-time. He showed the friars the wisdom of God’s ways.

As he was dying, Didacus looked at a crucifix and said: "O faithful wood, O precious nails! You have borne an exceedingly sweet burden, for you have been judged worthy to bear the Lord and King of heaven" (Marion A. Habig, O.F.M., The Franciscan Book of Saints, p. 834).

San Diego, California, is named for this Franciscan, who was canonized in 1588.

We cannot be neutral about genuinely holy people. We either admire them or we consider them foolish. Didacus is a saint because he used his life to serve God and God’s people. Can we say the same for ourselves?

This is my beloved city, with beaches, mountains, and deserts all within a 90-minute drive. Sunny, beautiful, San Diego ... nearly a paradise on this earth. But that's only in my not-so-humble opinion, of course....


Anne said...

I love the picture! I'd be proud of it as well!

Jane D. said...

I can't wait to come visit your beautiful city some time - it will happen, some day, some time!

Susanne Barrett said...

Yes, Jane, do come! We'll be happy to host you and yours. :)

Thanks, Anne.


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