One of the 21 missions in the California mission system, Mission San Luis Rey de Francia is a stunner. Located in Oceanside, San Diego County, California, it is one of the most fully restored missions.
Awe-inspiring, there is so much to see at this mission that it can’t be covered in one blog post! Throughout the rest of December, I’ll focus on different parts of Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in an attempt to bring readers up-close-and-personal with this gem.
I probably haven’t mentioned this before, but I’m not Catholic. I am, however, married to a Catholic and half of my family is Irish Catholic. I’m Protestant (Methodist, to be more exact). So, I can’t speak with any authority about the Catholic religion or the California mission system, which began in 1769 with the founding of Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala by Father (now Saint) Juniperro Serra. However, Wikipedia can and here is a link for more information: California Missions on Wikipedia.
What I can speak to is learning about California’s history and culture from my perspective as a long-time Southern California resident. And, these missions are some of the oldest structures still standing in our area.
While it is my dream to visit all 21 missions, I have only been to three:
- Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in Oceanside
- Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala in San Diego
- Mission San Juan Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano.
Plus, I have been to two of the sub-missions:
- Santa Ysabel Asistencio in Santa Ysabel, California (sub-mission to Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala)
- Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California (sub-mission to Mission San Luis Rey de Francia).
With the exception of Mission San Juan Capistrano (which is north of San Diego), all are located in San Diego County.
Each has its own charm, but Mission San Luis Rey de Francia is my favorite and every time Charlie and I go anywhere near Oceanside, California, we try and make time to stop by. One time we happened by and an Indian PowWow was underway. What a glorious site! Here’s a preview:
Founded in 1798, Mission San Luis Rey (aka Old Mission San Luis Rey) is the 18th mission of the 21 missions built between 1769 and 1833. The current church, built in 1811, is the 3rd church built at this location. Nicknamed “King of the Missions” because of its size, it is the largest.
Left abandoned in the 1830’s during the secularization period (the disestablishment of the missions), it started to decline. Twelve years after Mexico won independence from Spain, Mexico feared that the missions, loyal to the Roman Catholic Church in Spain, wielded too much power and influence within California. With the passing of the Mexican Secularization Act of 1833, much of the 21 California Missions’ land was sold or given away as Ranchos via land grants. During 1847 to 1857, Mission San Luis de Francia was a U.S. military installation and then abandoned again for more than 30 years.
The current mission is on 56 acres and includes not only the grand, historic church, but a lavanderia, lovely picnic grounds, gift shop, museum, cemetery, living quarters for the Franciscan friars and a retreat center.
A National Historic Landmark, Mission San Luis Rey de Francia is located in the coastal foothills of Oceanside, California.
Here are exterior photos of Mission San Luis Rey de Francia that I’ve taken over several visits:
Side view of front of Mission
Mission’s bell tower amidst bougainvillea
Cross above another bell tower at Mission San Luis Rey
Close-up of bell tower at Mission San Luis Rey
Cupola atop Mission San Luis Rey
Bougainvillea over arch at Mission San Luis Rey
Dome and two crosses atop Mission San Luis Rey
Side view of bell tower and dome decorated for a festival
Two crosses atop Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
Side view of Old Mission San Luis Rey
Portico at Mission San Luis Rey
Old Mission San Luis Rey decorated for a festival
Scattered clouds above the dome at Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
Brilliant blue Southern California sky and Old Mission San Luis Rey
Close-up of the cupola at Mission San Luis Rey
Scattered clouds, bell tower and bougainvillea – Mission San Luis Rey
Arches of portico at Mission San Luis Rey
Dome, bell tower and cross against a brilliant blue sky – Mission San Luis Rey
Another view of the bell tower at Old Mission San Luis Rey
So lovely! And, here are links to other posts about the missions and sub-missions I’ve visited: