The Missions: Number 7

World-famous Mission San Juan Capistrano might have been number six in the chain, but a tragedy postponed the plans. A week after Father Fermin and Lt. Ortega dedicated the site in October 1775, further development was abandoned when the priest and his military escort received news of the massacre of Continue reading The Missions: Number 7

The Missions: Number 6

Four years elapsed between the founding of San Luis Obispo and mission number six, formally named San Francisco de Asís but popularly known as Mission Dolores. Dedicated October  9, 1776, the mission derived its name from the Presidio of San Francisco, built only a month earlier. Both are named in honor of Continue reading The Missions: Number 6

The Missions: Number 5

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was founded September 1, 1772, chiefly because supplies were dwindling in the four already established missions—and this region contained an abundance of bears that could provide fresh meat for priests and soldiers who were otherwise facing starvation.  After 25 mule loads of dried bear Continue reading The Missions: Number 5

The Missions: Number 4

The fourth of the chain of Franciscan missions in Alta California was founded on the Feast of the Birth of Mary, September 8, 1771, and named San Gabriel Arcángel in honor of the Archangel Gabriel, Holy Prince of Angels. Five years later, when a flash flood destroyed much of the crops and ruined the complex, the mission Continue reading The Missions: Number 4

The Missions: Number 3

Bells hung from oak tree branches, crude small dwellings, and the planting of the first field crops marked the beginnings of the third Franciscan mission in 1771, Mission San Antonio de Padua, named in honor of St. Anthony of Padua. Three years later the mission was moved to a place  near a better water source farther up the Los Robles Valley. By the end of 1773 workshops, a small church and dwellings of adobe were in place, augmented by some houses of tulles and wood.  The first marriage in Alta California was celebrated that year, between Juan Maria Ruiz and Margaretta de Cortona. Within eight years, the mission contained a second church structure, store rooms, padre’s quarters, and three more small rooms. San Antonio was the first mission to use tiles as material for roofing. In 1806 the priests constructed a two story, water-powered gristmill. (The millrace and stone masonry of the original mill remain intact; the water wheel and mill house have been restored.)  Over the next several years additional storage facilities, shops for weaving rooms, stables, a carpenter shop, and a tannery were added, and work commenced on the third and final church structure, known as the Great Church.  San Antonio was among the first missions to be secularized, in 1834. By the 1880s, San Antonio de Padua was abandoned; exposure to the weather eventually destroyed all but the walls of the church itself and the row of brick-facade arches along the front corridor.  Restored in the early 20th century, Mission San Antonio today is an active Catholic parish as well as a tourist destination.