Features and Information:
Capsule History of
1797: Mission San Miguel Founded
For some months
during the summer of 1795, Padre Sitjar from Mission San Antonio
explored the region between San Luis Obispo and San Antonio. Finally, on
July 25, 1797, two years later, Presidente Fermin Francisco de Lasuen
took formal possession of the land for Viceroy Branciforte and founded
the 16th of the California missions. One of the chief
purposes of the new mission was to facilitate travel between Mission San
Luis Obispo and San Antonio. The mission system was so devised that each
mission was a day’s travel from its neighbor.
1806: Disastrous fire destroys buildings
The first chapel
had to be replaced in a year’s time by a larger adobe church.
Workshops were constructed and living quarters established. Before
sturdy tile roofs could be put over the buildings, a disastrous fire
occurred in 1806. A major portion of the mission’s equipment, produce,
and buildings were destroyed. Neighboring missions came to San
Miguel’s aid, however, and in a year’s time the mission was
1816: Present mission Church begun
In 1816 stone
foundations were laid for the church which survive today. Under the
direction of Padre Juan Martin, the Indians had been preparing adobe for
several years. The construction proceeded rapidly. And, in 1818, the
Church was ready for roofing. Three years later, Esteban Munras arrived
to supervise the interior decorations for which the Church is now
1836: Mission San Miguel is secularized
On July 14, 1836,
Ignacio Coronel assumed jurisdiction over San Miguel’s mission
property and lands for the civil government. Three years after the
secularizing of the mission, many of the Indians had run away; Padre
Moreno found the mission so despoiled that he had to retire elsewhere to
support himself. Padre Abella, the last Franciscan at San Miguel, died
in July, 1841.
1859: U.S. Government returns Mission to the Church
Miguel, which had been confiscated after secularization, was returned to
the church by President Buchanan.
1878: A padre is once more sent to Mission San Miguel
After 38 years without a resident padre, Rev. Philip Farrelly took up residence as First Pastor of Mission San Miguel. Secular clergy made various repairs to the church and mission buildings.
In 1928 Mission San Miguel was returned to the Franciscan Padres, the same group who had founded the mission in 1797. Today it is a parish church, novitiate, and retreat house.
Many of its original decorations are still intact. The mission’s appearance today is much the same as when it was first founded, and it stands as one of California’s best-preserved and authentic reminders of the past.
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Copyright © 2001 Lynne
Landwehr. All rights reserved.