We will have this California Missions Postcards Research Tool finished by 1/20th
21 California Missions
The origin of California missions can be traced back to the 18th century when the Spanish came up with a plan to extend the Roman Catholic Church up to the European territories. They plan to achieve this by converting native Americans to Catholics, that way, they can also colonize all of the settlers on the pacific coast of northern American territories. Below are the 21 missions founded by the California mission by the Spanish:
San Diego De Alcala
This is the first on the list of 21 California missions and marks the origin of Christianity in the western coast of the United States. It was established in 1769 and welcomes every visitor with the grandeur and joy that has lasted for centuries. The mission was named in the honor of Didacus of Alcalá and has the site of the first Christian burial in the whole of Alta California.
San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo
This is also called Mission Carmel and it is the second in the chain of California mission, it was founded in 1770 and name after Saint Charles Borromeo, a Milan archbishop who lived in the 16th century. It is said that father Serra died 14 years after founding the San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo mission, and as it is, his body has been moved on several occasions from its original resting place in the course of examining his sainthood. Till today, the San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo Carmel is seen as a tribute to Father Serra, again, on Father Serra’s dying bed he made a wish that a new stone is to be replaced with the mainstream adobe chapel.
San Antonio de Padua
This is the third mission on the list missions, it was founded by Father Junipero Serra after claiming the land on which the mission was built on in July 14, 1771, and later dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua. The mission had around 178 Americans living in it, and by 1805 the number increased to 1,300. But after the secularization laws were effected, the number of Indians living in the mission was only 150. Sometime in 1845, Pío Pico – the Mexican governor, declared all the missions in Alta California for sale but surprisingly nobody bid for the San Antonio de Padua mission. In 1894, a major reconstruction took place in the building; roof tiles were replaced with Southern Pacific Railroad depot.
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel
This is pronounced in Spanish as Misión de San Gabriel Arcángel, it was founded in Spaniards on September 8, 1771, on “The Feast of the Birth of Mary,” it is the 4th mission out of 21 missions founded by the Spanish in California. The mission was named after Archangel Gabriel is popularly known as “Godmother of the Pueblo of Los Angeles”, the Moorish architecture of this building was designed by Antonio Cruzado Córdoba from Spain. At the center of the Campo Santo cemetery stands a big stone cross which was consecrated sometime in 1778 by John Cantwell (Los Angeles Archbishop), and serves as the grave to 6,000 new converts.
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
This is also called Misión San Luís Obispo de Tolosa in Spanish language, it is one of the missions founded by the Spanish in 1772 by the presiding priest Father Junípero. It was named after Saint Louis of Anjou the then bishop of Toulouse, this is one of the most beautiful missions out of the 21 that was founded by the Spanish. It was decorated with beautiful flower gardens, a (small) museum that houses items from its history. The San Luis Obispo de Tolosa surprisingly opens its doors to the public who comes for tour daily, something other mission in the California area does not practice.
Mission San Francisco de Asís
Also known as Mission Dolores, it is the oldest structure that has survived the test of time and it is also the oldest in structure in all the 6th religious settlements founded in California as part of the missions. Established on the 9th of October 1776 by Francisco Palóu with the help of Fray Pedro Combón (co-founder). Fray Pedro Combón was once charged alongside members of the de Anza for preaching to the natives and accompanying Spanish migrants to Alta California. As it is, some of the buildings in the mission have been used as business centers e.g. print shops and business centers.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Founded in 1776 by the Catholic Franciscan Order: Spanish Catholics. The mission was named after the “warrior priest” and a theologian, Saint John of Capistrano who once lived in the Abruzzo area of Italy. The mission houses one of the oldest buildings in California – Father Serra’s Church. This is a building built around 1782 and it is still in use to date. Before the missionaries arrived, the area has been housing 550 indigenous Acjachemen people, and from 1776-1847, the number of new converts had increased from 1,649 to 4,639.
Mission Santa Clara de Asís
This mission was originally called La Misión Santa Clara de Thamien meaning Mission Santa Clara de Thamien. It was originally founded on the 12th of January, 1777 and sited at So-co-is-u-ka, an Indian village located along the Guadalupe River. Natural disasters like earthquakes and floods swept the original structure forcing them to move to higher grounds. It was the second structure that was now called Mission Santa Clara de Asís and was built between 1784 -1819 and sited hundreds of yards west of De La Cruz.
Mission San Buenaventura
The idea of establishing this mission can be traced back to March 30, 1749, on a palm Sunday. It was established on president Francisco’s orders and proceeded by Junipero Serra in a bid to establish a mission in the “New World” with the natives as the prime target. After 31 years of coming to California, he was reported to have finally raised the cross at Playa de La Canel de Santa Barbara on Easter morning on the 31st of March 1782. Assisted by Pedro Benito Cambon, it would have been the third mission in the 21 missions but as destiny may have it, it turned out to the 9th and his last.
Mission Santa Barbara
This mission is also known as Santa Barbara’s Mission, is one of the 21 missions founded by the Spanish by the orders of Francisco in Santa Barbara, California. The mission was founded by Padre Fermin Lasuen on the 4th of December 1786 on the feast of Saint Barbara. It is the 10th mission founded to convert the native people of Chumash – Barbarano and is located at the height between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez mountains. It was dedicated by Father Fermin Lasuen who later took over from Junipero Serva as the president of the California mission after his death.
Mission La Purisima Concepcion
Also called La Purisima mission, La Mision de La Purisima Concepcion or the mission of the immaculate conception of the most blessed Virgin Mary. It is located in Lompoc California and was established on the 8th of December 1787 during the feast of immaculate conception by the order of Franciscan. The original mission complex building located on the south of Lompoc was swept by an earthquake sometime in 1812, and it was rebuilt where it is presently – few miles northeast. According to history, after the Mexicans won the war of 1823, funding of the missions was ceased, and soldiers guarding the building were no longer paid, a situation that really triggered their frustration and descended on the natives.
Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad
This is also called the Soledad mission, our lady of solitude, or mission Soledad it was founded on the order of Franciscan on the 9th of October 1791 to convert the locales. It is the 13th on the chain of California missions established by the Spanish, the mission was named after the “Soledad”. The building was abandoned in 1835 after which some of its building materials were sold thereby leaving the building in a state of despair. But in 1954 a major reconstruction work was carried out on the building, and in 1955 a new chapel was formed and dedicated.
Mission Santa Cruz
This is also called “The mission of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, also founded on the orders of Franciscan. Located in where we know today as Santa Cruz, in California mission founded by Juan Crespi – a missionary priest who had accompanied Gaspar De Portola – an explorer in 1769. The mission was dedicated by Padre Fermin Lasuen on the 28th of August 1791 and has been named the smallest mission in the 14 districts under the protection of president San Francisco. It was recorded that the mission was once flooded with the waters from winter, but it was rebuilt after three years on higher ground.
Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana
This is located in the mission hills area of Los Angeles, California. It was established on the 8th of September 1797 and was the 17th mission out of the 21st missions founded in Alta California. Named in honor of Ferdinand, it was also named after the city of San Fernando: a nearby city located in the valley. It was founded by Father Fermin Lasuen with the help of Fray Francisco Dumetz, on the first day of dedication, 10 children were baptized, and from 1797 till 1800 Fray Francisco Dumetz and his colleague Fray Francisco Javier Uria worked hand-in-hand in making sure the mission is fully functional.
Mission San Jose
Also known as the queen of the mountains, it is said to have been the biggest of all the missions. It was established on the 11th of June, 1797 by the orders of president Franciscan, it was the 14th mission established by the Spanish in California. The building suffered a decline after the secularization act of 1833 initiated by the Mexican government. Though it has suffered moments of neglect, earthquakes and was left in ruins, past restoration efforts have helped preserve its original design.
Mission San Juan Bautista
Located in San Juan Bautista California, this mission was founded on the 24th of June, 1797 by the orders of president Franciscan, and founded by Fermin Lasuen. This is the 15th mission on the list of California mission established by the Spanish, it was named in the honor of Saint John the Baptist, and named after the city it was sited on – San Juan Bautista.
Mission San Miguel Archangel
This mission is located in San Miguel, San Luis Obispo County in California. It was founded on the 25th of July, 1797 also on the orders of Franciscan, the construction of the building was considered because of the large population of Salinan Indians that started flooding the district which the presiding Spanish priests wanted to convert. Today is the mission is still used as a parish church under the Monterey Diocese.
Mission San Luis Ray De Francia
The mission is also known as mission de San Luis, Rey de Francia, meaning “the mission of Saint Louis, king of France”. It was named in the honor of the then French king – Louis IX of France. The mission San Luis Rey De Francia is among the biggest missions in all of the 21 missions in California occupying 950,400 acres of land including the surrounding lands used for agricultural purposes.
Mission Santa Ines
It is situated in the present-day Solvang, California and named after Saint Agnes of Rome. Established on the 17th of September 1804 by the presiding priest, Father Estevan Tapis on the orders of president Franciscan. The establishment of this mission was actually to reduce the ever-growing population of members in mission La Purisima and Santa Barbara missions respectively.
Mission San Rafael
Established in 1817, this mission initially was founded on a medical submission (listeners) of mission San Francisco de Asis. It was a hospital meant to treat the sick American natives. The reason for this was that San Francisco had more friendly weather which helps sick patients recover faster, of which, the initial plan was not for it to be a stand-alone mission.
- Mission San Francisco Solano
This is the 21st and the last mission established by the Spanish in Alta California. This was the only mission built in Alta area of California after the Mexican independence. The mission was actually set up for political reasons: the Mexican government wanted to increase it’s population in the northern area of San Francisco Bay thereby keeping off the Russians who had planned on moving further on the inland.