Historic marker now sits at Casa Romantica

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By Jim Shilander

The state historic marker celebrating the first Christian baptism in California has a new home, for the second time.

The La Cristianita monument was unveiled at its new home at Casa Romantica Thursday, fulfilling a dream of Bertha Henry Taylor, the city’s late matriarch. Taylor advocated for many years to move the monument from City Hall to a more prominent place in town.

Giovanni Cirocco, who donated the funds to move the monument, said he was inspired to do so by both Taylor and the memory of his grandfather, or “Nonno,” Niccola.

“He celebrated life and the abundant gift from God,” Cirocco said.

Cirocco’s grandfather had taught him that it was important to celebrate the causes of people who felt passionately about a project, which led him to work to make Taylor’s efforts a reality.

The marker represented an important cultural shift for the area’s native people, Teresa Romero, the chairwoman of the Juaneño band of Mission Indians said. Now the marker honored something different.

“It celebrates that we’re still here today,” Romero said.

The monument was initially placed south of the city in 1957, but was then moved to City Hall during the construction of Interstate 5. The monument also directs visitors to the actual historic site of the baptisms, which is south of the city in unincorporated San Diego County.

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  • Blessings to Dr. Cirocco and congratulations to the Casa Romantica, for bringing this important monument and significant incident in San Clemente history into greater light. Both those who live in and visit this seaside city experience the spiritual side of life in this special place. It is not only its Mediterranean light and color, but the care of people here for each other that makes San Clemente what it is. That was illustrated then in the baptism of native children, and is lovingly demonstrated today in the new placement of this monument. Thank you, Dr. Cirocco, for your selfless gesture on behalf of our city.

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