Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Brief mission

Taking advantage of the nice weather, we went up today to see Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, "King of the Missions," near Oceanside. Set up in 1798, this is the 18th of the 21 California missions which stretch from San Diego up to Sonoma. (Actually, as this map from an Arqueología Mexicana I got in Tijuana shows, the 21 Franciscan missions of "Alta California" were latecomers to a series which began in 1683 and included 61 missions in all, most Jesuit and Dominican.) While a relative latecomer, this mission has seen its share of history - though little of it as a mission. Center of a self-supporting agricultural community of as many as 3000 Native Americans (named after the mission Luiseños) supervised (...) by European Friars, it was secularized a dozen years after Mexican independence in 1833 and sold (the land which was to have been restored to the Luiseños was taken by European settlers), occupied by American soldiers from 1846 to 1852, and restored to the Catholic Church by presidential order (Mr. Lincoln!) in 1865. It remained a picturesque ruin until reconsecration in 1893 by a Father O'Keefe, who worked with a community of Franciscans uprooted and relocated from Zacatecas (in Mexico) to rebuild it. After a stint as a college it now accompanies a parish, houses a retreat center, and looks mutely out over what was once a verdant valley but is now a highway garlanded with strip malls and business parks; the Marines' Camp Pendleton starts just to its north. Whew. (This rain-kissed succulent was in the garden.)

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