Updated Exhibit for 'Swallows' Songwriter

A tribute to the man who put San Juan Capistrano on the musical map has been given a new look at the Mission.

Mission San Juan Capistrano may be best known for preserving 200-plus-year-old history, but one small exhibit honors a more recent time period.

The year was 1939, and a songwriter named Leon René wrote a love song with local imagery: “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano.”

Since then, it’s been covered by the likes of Elvis Presley and Pat Boone and can be heard at many important city events, such as the city’s 50th birthday celebration and state-of-the-city addresses.

While the Mission has offered a small tribute to René and his famous song for some time now, the exhibit got a makeover last month.

The Leon René Music Room features artifacts donated by the René family and includes the songwriter's piano, photographs and sheet music for the famous song, as well as new interpretative panels and lighting. 

“The Mission hopes to introduce younger listeners to this iconic song that has played an important part in the Mission's history and popularity,” a press release states.


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