Mission San Miguel Arcángel

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Spanish missions in California

Deakin SMA circa 1899.jpg
Mission San Miguel Arcángel, circa 1899[1]
Location: San Miguel, California
Coordinates: 35° 44′ 41″ N, 120° 41′ 53″ W
Name as Founded: La Misión del Gloriosísimo Príncipe Arcángel, Señor San Miguel [2]
English Translation: The Mission of the Glorious Prince, Archangel Saint Michael
Patron Saint: Archangel Saint Michael [3]
Nickname(s): "Mission on the Highway" [4]
"The Unretouched Mission" [5]
Founding Date: July 25,1797 [6]
Founded By: Father Fermín Lasuén [7]
Founding Order: Sixteenth [3]
Military District: Third [8]
Native Tribe(s):
Spanish Name(s):
Primordial Place Name(s): Valica [9]
Baptisms: 4,340 [10]
Confirmations: 2,471 [10]
Marriages: 764 [10]
Burials: 1,868 [10]
Year of Neophyte Population Peak: 1814 [11][12]
Neophyte Population: 658 [11][12]
Neophyte Population in 1832: 1,076 [11][12]
Secularized: 1834 [3]
Returned to the Church: 1859 [3]
Caretaker: Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey
Current Use: Parish Church (under repair)
Current Land Area: 0.4 acres
National Historic Landmark: #NPS-71000191
Date added to the NRHP: July 14, 1971
California Historical Landmark: #326
Web Site: http://www.missionsanmiguel.org/

Mission San Miguel Arcángel is a former religious outpost established by Spanish colonists on the west coast of North America in the present-day State of California. Founded on July 25, 1797 by Roman Catholics of the Franciscan Order, the settlement was the sixteenth in the twenty-one mission Alta California chain. Named after Saint Michael the Archangel, the site was chosen specifically due to its proximity to the large number of Salinan Indians that inhabited the area. Designated as a historic landmark at both the state and national levels, today the Mission serves as a parish church within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey.

Another mission bearing the name San Miguel Arcángel is Misión San Miguel Arcángel de la Frontera in Baja California.


Mission Period (1769 – 1833)

Rancho Period (1834 – 1849)

In 1846, Governor Pío Pico sold the Mission for $600 to Petronillo Rios and William Reed. Reed used the Mission as a family residence and a store. In 1848, Reed and his family were murdered, leaving the Mission vacant for a period of time. The Mission was a stopping place for miners coming from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and was consequently was used as a saloon, dance hall, storeroom and living quarters.

California Statehood (1850 – 1900)

President James Buchanan signed a proclamation on September 2, 1859 that restored ownership of the Mission proper to the Roman Catholic Church.[13] In 1878, after 38 years without a resident padre, Father Philip Farrelly became the "First Pastor" of Mission San Miguel Arcángel. Through all the years the priests kept the church in condition and it is called the best-preserved church in the mission chain today.

20th century and beyond (1901 – present)

In 1928, Mission San Miguel Arcángel and Mission San Antonio de Padua were returned to the Franciscan order. Since then, the Mission has been repaired and restored, and has one of the best-preserved interiors (which gives one of the best examples of old mission life). For many years, the Mission served the town as an active parish church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey in California. Unfortunately, harmonic vibrations from the nearby Union Pacific Railroad main line has weakened the unreinforced masonry structures over the years. The San Simeon Earthquake of December 22, 2003 caused severe damage to the sanctuary. It will be several years before seismic retrofitting of the structure (estimated to cost some $15 million) will be completed; until then, the building is off-limits to the general public.[14] In 2006 the chapel was designated as one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "11 Most Endangered Historic Places" due to its advanced state of deterioration.[15]

Mission bells

Bells were vitally important to daily life at any mission. The bells were rung at mealtimes, to call the Mission residents to work and to religious services, during births and funerals, to signal the approach of a ship or returning missionary, and at other times; novices were instructed in the intricate rituals associated with the ringing the mission bells.

Notes and references

  1. (PD) Painting: Edwin Deakin
  2. Leffingwell, p. 91
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Krell, p. 254
  4. Engelhardt
  5. Ruscin, p. 129
  6. Yenne, p. 140
  7. Ruscin, p. 196
  8. Forbes, p. 202
  9. Ruscin, p. 195
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Krell, p. 315: as of December 31, 1832; information adapted from Engelhardt's Missions and Missionaries of California.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Krell, p. 315: Information adapted from Engelhardt's Missions and Missionaries of California.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Engelhardt 1920, pp. 300-301
  13. Leffingwell, p. 92
  14. Coronado and Ignatin
  15. Mission San Miguel Arcangel [1]