Site  by Lynne Landwehr © 2001





Features and Information:

Mission Projects:
Mission San Miguel



A Capsule History of
Mission San Miguel Archangel 

Reprinted, with permission,
from the brochure distributed at the Mission. 

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 functioning again.

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 famous. 

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

Mission San 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.

Today:  Best Preserved Interior

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.

FloorPlanMissionSanMiguel.jpg (200866 bytes) Click on the image at left
to see floor plan and self-tour
of Mission San Miguel. 
Illustration reprinted, with
permission, from the brochure
distributed at the Mission.

Mission San Miguel Arcangel
Historical Postcards

The following postcard photos give an idea of how Mission San Miguel Arcangel has looked over the years.  

Click on any of the thumbnail photos below
to see a larger version of that photo.

PostcardSanMiguelMissionJune21.jpg (23050 bytes)
PostcardSanMiguelMissionAugust24WithWood.jpg (19312 bytes)
PostcardMissionSanMiguelWithTower.jpg (59377 bytes) This photo appeared in
a 1909 brochure
published by the
San Luis Obispo County
Chamber of Commerce.
PanchoAtGrindstone, San Miguel Mission


You may use any of the following photos
of Mission San Miguel
in your 4th grade mission project,
but please mention this website.
Thank you.

Mission San Miguel: 
Front of church  
shows cracks  
caused by trains  
passing nearby.  
FrontofMissionSanMiguel.jpg (47809 bytes)
MissionSanMiguelBellInPortico.jpg (58056 bytes)  Bell in portico
 is held in place
 with strips of
Front portico.   MissionSanMiguelPortico.jpg (51039 bytes)
 in front courtyard.
)  Interior walls of church
 show some water
 damage--old buildings
 need constant repairs!
Statue of  
San Miguel, Arcangel  
(Saint Michael, 
Tools and Utensils 
on display at the mission 
include the double yoke 
for oxen, right.  
  Chumash grinding tools, left.
MissionSanMiguelCorridorWithTools.jpg (53393 bytes) MissionSanMiguelEarthenwarePots.jpg (61447 bytes)
 Earthenware pots,
 Ranch and farm tools,
The library for the Franciscan friars
who live at the Mission
is painted with scenes
from the life of St. Francis:
MissionSanMiguelLibraryLeftSide.jpg (59136 bytes) MissionSanMiguelLibraryRightSide.jpg (71330 bytes)
St.FrancisWithWineGlass.jpg (80065 bytes) StFrancisAtWell.jpg (48035 bytes)
St.FrancisDeparture.jpg (56311 bytes)
StFrancisDeparture2.jpg (65124 bytes)
StFrancisWithBeggar.jpg (71021 bytes)
StFrancisEndsFeud.jpg (70860 bytes)


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Copyright © 2001 Lynne Landwehr.  All rights reserved.