California’s First Mission – Mission San Diego de Alicalá

UPDATE: It is important to remember that while California Missions have been hailed as places of peace, they also have deep and complicated histories, including slavery, violence, and forced religious conversion.

Having visited 99% of the shops I wanted to go to, my fourth full day in San Diego was spent exploring the city on my own. I didn’t really have a plan, but then I remembered Carla told me that San Diego had a mission, and not just a mission but the first mission!

Mission San Diego de Aliclá was originally founded in 1769, but in 1774 was relocated, to its current location, to be closer to the Kumeyaay Native Americans. However just a year later the mission was attacked by the Kumeyaay, and Padre Luis Jayme was killed. Not only was Parde Jayme killed, but the mission suffered from a fire, and in 1776 Padre Serra began restoring the mission. Over the decades prior to Mexican independence the mission converted (often by force) many Native Americans while also raising livestock and horses. When Mexican independence was declared in 1821 the mission was given to Santiago Arguello. Then a little over twenty years later the Mexican-American War began. When it was over the US Cavalry used the mission and made many repairs to the mission and its buildings. In May of 1862 President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation returning all of the missions to the Roman Catholic Church.

Today Mission San Diego de Alcalá is still an active church, hosting daily and Sunday mass, but is open to the public and offers a small museum offering the history behind the mission, as well as artifacts unearthed during restoration. The mission is still in the process of uncovering new artifacts on its site.

Reflect on the history of California and the relationship between the Indigenous population and Spanish colonists at Mission San Diego de Alcalá at 10818 San Diego Mission Road in San Diego. For further details, please visit the mission’s website.

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