Mission San Diego de
Alcala was founded on
July 16, 1769, by Father Junipero Serra, Father-Presidente of the
Mission Chain. It was the 1st mission in the 21 mission chain in Alta
California and known as the "Mother of the Alta California Missions".
It was named for Saint Didacus of Alcala, a name given to the bay 167
years earlier by the Spanish explorer, Sebastian Vizcaino. Father
Luis Jayme was left in charge of building the mission when Father
Serra left for Monterey to establish the 2nd mission. The church
building is 135 feet long and 29 feet high.
The Yuma Indians were not
friendly in the
beginning. They did not want these men taking their land. The
missionaries were having trouble bringing the Indians into the
mission due to the soldiers' treatment of the Indians. Indians slowly
began to come to the mission. In 1775 several hundred Indians
attacked the Mission. Father Jayme walked towards the attacking
Indians saying "Love God, my children". The Indians killed the man
who was trying to help them. Father Jayme was the first priest and
martyr in California. Many people were killed and the Indians lost
the battle. After that night, the Indians were friendlier to the
white man. In 1797 there were 565 new Indians added to the mission
which brought the total to 1,400 Indians living at the Mission San
Diego de Alcala. All of the Indians were given new clothes each
The economy at Mission
San Diego de Alcala
was similar to the other missions in that they planted crops of wheat
and corn. They also planted vineyards, and raised cattle and sheep.
The agriculture was needed not only to maintain the mission community
and the nearby Indians, but was used for trade and served to visitors
to the mission. In 1795 a system of aqueducts was begun to bring
water to the fields and the mission. By 1797 the mission had 50,000
areas of land growing wheat, barley, corn, and beans. They also grew
vineyards of grapes and orchards and vegetables at the mission. They
had 20,000 sheep, 10,000 cattle and 1,250 horses in 1797. The Indian
women were trained in candle and soap making, weaving, sewing, and
cooking. The mission grew slower than most and was not as
The City of San Diego
grew up around the
mission. The mission sits on a hill overlooking the city today. San
Diego has grown to be a very large and important city in
After Mexico won its
Spain, it found that it could no longer afford to keep the missions
running as Spain had done. In 1834, Mexico decided to end the mission
system and sell all of the lands. They offered the lands to the
Indians who did not want the lands or could not come up with the
purchase price. The lands were divided into smaller Ranchos and sold
to Mexican citizens who were helpful during the war for independence.
After nearly 30 years, the missions were returned to the Catholic
Church. Although some of the missions had already been returned to
the church, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an Act
declaring that all of the 21 missions in the California mission chain
would become the property of the Catholic Church and have remained so
since that time. By 1827, the mission had begun to decline. There was
no money coming from Mexico or Spain to help the mission. For years
weeds grew on the mission land. In 1846 the Mission San Diego de
Alcala was given to a Mexican man, Santiago Arguello. When the United
States took over California, the mission was used by the military
from 1846 to 1862.
When the Mission San
Diego de Alcala was
given back to the church, it was in ruins. It wasn't until the 1880's
that Father Anthony Ubach began to restore the old mission buildings.
He died in 1907 and the restoration stopped. In 1931 an effort was
begun to rebuild the mission. Slowly the mission compound was
In 1941 the mission once
again became a
parish church. In 1976, Pope Paul VI designated the mission church as
a Minor Basilica, a great honor. Today the mission is still an active
parish serving the busy City of San Diego.
disabled. Get Netscape 3.0
or turn it on!
2. Mission San Diego de Alcala was founded....?
3. What Indian Tribe was in the area of the San
Diego de Alcala
4. Mission San Diego de Alcala is know as...?
Mother of the
Alta California Missions
of the Missions
5. Who did the actual building of the missions?
6. What happened to the missions in 1834?
Indians took over
7. Mission San Diego de Alcala was the...?
church that has been completely
mission without soldiers
the California Missions
mission with a bell tower
8. The water system at the mission was...?
the Navajo reservation
irrigate the fields
complete failure causing a long
9. What happened in 1775?
San Diego de Alcala was
were taken over by Mexican
attacked the mission
10. What did Abraham Lincoln agree to in 1863?
return the Mission lands to
President of the United
the San Antonio de Padua
the Indians to leave the
Mission Internet Trail
Spanish Missions of California
Indians of San Diego County - Short
description of the four tribal groups found in San Diego County and a
bibliography of major sources. By San Diego State University
reference librarian Phillip White
Journal of San Diego History -
"Sociopolitical Aspects of the 1775 Revolt at Mission San Diego de
Alcala: an Ethnohistorical Approach" by Richard L. Carrico
This project written by Rob
partial fulfilment of
of Arts Degree
from Cal Poly
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This page last updated on July 15, 2010