History California missions are religious outposts that were created by the Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order. The missions were established as a way for the Spanish to colonize the Pacific Coast. However, the missionaries were met with resistance by many of the Native American tribes and the tribes were not converted to Christianity and 'civilized' as the missionaries had hoped.
California Missions Order and Date Founded
Life is the Mission
California Mission Order and Date Founded For virtual tour click here
Missions were established by the Spanish to hold and colonize new land. The California missions were also created for this purpose. This missions consisted of the church, a fort or presidio, and the town or pueblo. The fort and soldiers protected the padres from attack. The town provided the basic necessities for growing families. Men, women and children were brought in from Mexico to settle in the town. The missions were generally designed as a walled city, in the shape of a quadrangle. The church was on one side, and the fort and town on two other sides, with a large open square in the center.
The picture of life in one of these missions during their period of prosperity is unique and attractive. The whole place was a hive of industry: trades plying indoors and outdoors; tillers, herders, vintagers by hundreds, going to and fro; children in schools; women spinning; bands of young men practicing on musical instruments; music, the scores of which, in many instances, they had themselves written out; at evening, all sorts of games of running, leaping, dancing, and ball-throwing, and the picturesque ceremonies of a religion which has always been wise in availing itself of beautiful agencies in color, form, and harmony.
At every mission were walled gardens with waving palms, sparkling fountains, groves of olive trees, broad vineyards, and orchards of all manner of fruits; over all, the sunny, delicious, winterless California sky.
Early Spanish explorations of the California Coast were a search for the Northwest Passage or "Strait of Anian" that would offer an inland route to Asia from North America. While the search for such a place remained fruitless, many of these explorers described excellent bays and natural harbors that had existed along the coast. Sometimes these locations were replete with treasure, but more often than not they offered harbor from not-so-Pacific waters. As time progressed, the lands known as California became more and more valuable to the Spanish, in part because of the remaining mythologies, but more so because increasing territorial competition from other Imperial powers of the time such as Britain and Russia that were using the coastal waters for seal hunting and whale harvesting. The Spanish, the most imminent of those governments, chose to colonize the lands of their northernmost territories. One problem existed: the Spanish had none of the resources -primarily the necessary citizenry- to complete such a task. Faced with this situation in other parts of Latin America, the Spanish had decided to use the Mission System. In short, the Mission System would utilize the existing population of a territory (in this case, the Indians of California) to build a new Spanish citizenry through the "introduction of religion, language, and the intermixture of blood."
Mission San Diego is sometimes referred to as the Plymouth Rock of the West Coast.
The first seeds of agriculture were planted at Mission San Diego, which laid the foundations for the great agricultural state that California is today.
It was possible for historians to find out what crops were grown at each mission by studying the components of the adobe bricks.
When homes were being built in Old Town, it was common practice to take materials from the abandoned mission to be used in constructing the homes.
Usually two padres were assigned to each mission but as more and more missions were built only one padre served at this mission. Fr. Fermin de Lausuen served as our pastor and only priest from 1775-1785. He also succeeded Padre Serra as President of the Mission System.
The OFM after the name of a padre refers to the designation of Order of Friars Minor - followers of Saint Francis of Assisi.