SAN GABRIEL, Calif. (KABC) -- Almost three years after being nearly destroyed by a devastating arson, the newly restored Mission San Gabriel Arcángel is set to reopen to the public.
The reopening is "a great joy," Archbishop José Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said, "because it was a tragic situation that we were in. And this, as we were talking about today, is a beautiful place."
Outside the mission's museum on Tuesday, a special blessing was given by members of the Gabrieleño/Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians.
Inside the museum, a new exhibit celebrates the Native Americans who called the area home.
"This exhibit is the first time that the museum has ever really shown the native history of this region," said Steve Hackel, curator of the museum. "Previously, the museum was largely focused on the building itself and the Franciscans who lived here.
"But we have tried to create a commemoration of the 7,000 natives who lived here over 60 years of the mission's life."
The mission's original hand-crafted altar was not seriously damaged in the 2020 fire. It has not been restored to its position at the front of the church to welcome the faithful.
More than 50 new pews have been installed inside the church.
"We are the people of God," Gomez said. "We all have different origins, and different ways of doing things, but we are together."
The mission and museum are scheduled to reopen to the public July 1.