At the time the mission was restored in 1931 only the facade was still standing.
July 16, 1769
Mother of the Alta California Missions.
St. Didacus of Alcalá, a fifteenth century Spanish Franciscan. The Bay of San Diego was discovered in 1542 by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo but named San Diego in 1602 by the explorer Sebatián Vizcaíno, who mapped the coast.
Mission San Diego
The Blessed Junípero Serra, the first Father President of the California missions.
The mission was originally located on Presidio Hill overlooking the bay, at a location called Cosoy by the natives. The mission was relocated about five and a half miles inland at the village of Nipaguay in 1774.
A dam was constructed six miles upstream from the mission, on the San Diego River. Water was brought to the foot of Mission Hill via an aqueduct or zanja and then by way of a noria or waterwheel, into the mission.
The neophyte population at San Diego in its peak years (1797-1831) averaged over 1,500. The highest population was 1,829, in 1824.
In 1773 (the first year for which we have records) the mission had 40 cattle, 74 sheep, 55 goats, 10 pigs, 29 horses and 28 mules, a total of 245 animals. In 1822 the mission had over 30,000 animals, including 9,245 cattle and 19,000 sheep.
Over the years 1782 - 1832 the mission produced 259,545 bushels of wheat, barley, corn, beans, peas, lentils, garbanzos (chickpeas) and habas (broad beans).
The church was originally built in 1813 (the third church on this site). It was rebuilt and fully restored in 1931.
A striking 46' campanario (bell wall) on the left side of the church rises above the mission gardens and contains five bells. The largest bell, called Mater Dolorsa weights 1,200 pounds. It was cast in San Diego in 1894.
The baptismal font in the museum is original to Mission San Diego. The baptismal font in the church is a replica of the one in which Fr. Junipero Serra was baptized in 1713 in Petra on the island of Majorca.
A popular stop on the mission tour is a re-creation of Fr. Serra's cloister or living quarters.
The mission was destroyed in an Indian attack in November, 1775. One of the missionaries, Fr. Luis Jaime, and two others were killed, including Urselino the mission carpenter and the blacksmith Jose Romero
Year Returned to Catholic Church:
1862, in a proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
Active Roman Catholic Church of the diocese of San Diego, properly referred to as the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala.
Prominent Missionary Leaders:
Most of the important early missionaries served or officiated at Mission San Diego, including Fr. Serra's closest friend Fr. Juan Crespi (in 1772). Serra's successor, Fr. Fermín Francisco de Lasuén served at this mission for ten years (from 1775-1785).
Indians Joining This Mission:
he prominent he Indian tribes in the area were the Tipai-Ipai. The native term most frequently used for the San Diego natives is Kumeyaay, one of the principal dialects. The Spanish called the neophytes at Mission San Diego Diegueño. Unlike other missios, the neophytes at San Diego continued to reside in traditional villages in part due to food shortages at the mission.
In 1818 a sub-mission, or asistencia, Santa Ysabel, was established in the mountains some 60 miles east of San Diego. Santa Ysabel fell into ruin after secularization but a new chapel was built in 1924 by a Canadian-born priest, Fr. Edmond La Pointe, who served the area for 29 years.
This mission was used by the U.S. Army (various companies of artillery and cavalry) from 1853 until about 1858.
The mission was made a Minor Basilica in 1976 by Pope Paul VI.