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[photo] San Diego Mission Church (San Diego de Alcala)
Photo courtesy of Donald Laird, www.calandmarks.com

Known as the "Mother of the Missions," San Diego Mission Church (San Diego de Alcala), a National Historic Landmark, was the first of 21 Spanish missions established, in part, by Father Junipero Serra. The mission was founded in 1769. The church burned during an Indian uprising in 1775. The second church, constructed 1776-77, was replaced by a larger adobe church in 1780, which in turn was damaged by an earthquake in 1803. The present church, constructed from 1808 to 1813, is the fourth constructed at the site. Father Serra chose this site for the mission because of its proximity to Indian villages, a reliable source of water, and fertile land. American Indian laborers cultivated wheat, barley, corn, and beans in the fields and tended orchards and vegetable gardens. By 1797, the mission had cultivated 50,000 acres, supported by an extensive irrigation system. After the Mexican government secularized the mission in 1834, the buildings were abandoned until 1846, when they were occupied by the U.S. Cavalry. In 1862, by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, the mission was returned to church ownership and was used as an Indian school from 1887-1907. The buildings were reconstructed during the 1940s.

The San Diego Mission, located at 10818 San Diego Mission Rd., is open daily from 9:00am to 4:45pm, although weekend events and Sunday mass may preclude visitors from access to the interior of the church. For more information call 619-281-8449 or visit the website.


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