San Luis Rey de Francía

The 18th of the California Missions
June 13, 1798
Special Designation: 
King of the Missions
Named For: 
King Luis IX of France, who led crusades to the Holy Land in the 13th century.
Also Called: 
Mission San Luis Rey
Founding Father President: 
Fr. Frmin Franciso Lasuen
Founding Missionaries: 
Frs. Antonio Peyrí and José Faura were the first assigned religious.
Mission Site: 
Located on a hill overlooking a peaceful valley at the native village of Tacayme in the region know as Quechia, about five miles east of present day Oceanside.
San Luis Rey extended over six acres. By 1826 the quadrangle measured 500 feet on each side. There was a long corridor with thirty-two Roman arches in front of the patio.
Water Source: 
The nearby San Luis Rey River and two springs fed an acquaduct or zania that supplied water through two fountains and a charcoal filtration system before irrigating fields. l
Although San Luis Rey was one of the last missions founded it rapidly became the most prosperous of the California missions, with a population that reached 2,869 in 1825, over three times the mission average.
San Luis Rey rapidly built its livestock herd from 800 in 1798 to over 20,000 within a decade. In 1832 ore the mission the total number of animals peaked at 57,380, ubckydubg 27,500 cattle and 26,100 sheep, dwarfing all other mission herds in size.
Agricultural Output: 
San Luis Rey harvasted over 411,000 bushels of grain and produce during the period 1789-1832. Wheat, barley, corn and beans were the primary early crops.
Mission Church: 
The San Luis Rey Church, completed in 1815, is the only surviving mission church laid out in a cruciform plan. It is 165.5 feet in length and the nave spans 27.5 feet in width by 30 feet in height. A cupola - unique among the California missions - is an octagonal lantern formed of 144 panes of glass. It tops the wooden dome built over the sanctuary in 1829.
Mission Bells: 
Four bells hang in a three-story domed bell tower. The mission was designed with only one bell tower.
Mission Art: 
Look for the original hand hammered baptismal font in the baptistery, along with religious iconography and mission era art and artifacts exhibited in a beautiful interpritive museum.
Special Attraction: 
The sunken garden and lavanderia (laundry), located in a hollow to the south of the mission may be reached by descending 46 fire tiled steps. Two springs provided water that sprouted from the mouths of sculpted gargoyles into the lavanderia.
Significant Events: 
The departure of Fr. Antonio Peyri.
Year Returned to Catholic Church: 
Current Status: 
A consecrated Roman Catholic church attached to the Franciscan community of San Luis Rey de Francia.
Prominent Missionary Leaders: 
Father Peyrí, who led the mission for thirty-six years. Father Peyrí was not only an energetic leader with a genial disposition, he was a talented architect and builder. When the beloved padre was forced to leave after the Mexican takeover of California, hundreds of neophytes followed him to San Diego, begging him to return.
Indians Joining This Mission: 
The Takic speaking people associated with Mission San Luis Rey have been called Luiseño since the Spanish occupation. The native term for these people is the Payomkowishum. The descendants of the neophytes at the mission's asistencia, San Antonio de Pala, now call themselves the Pala Band of Mission Indians.
Interesting Facts: 
In 1816, the asistencia or sub-mission of San Antonio de Pala was established at a mission rancho around 25 miles to the east of the main complex. This is the only one of a score of mission-era asistencia that is intact and continues to serve its descendant Indian community. The asistencia is located on the Pala Indian Reservation.
Two Indian boys, Pablo Tac and Agripito Amamix, were brought to Rome by Fr. Peyri to further their education and training for the priesthood.
A document from the mission's cornerstone identifies master carpenter Jose Antonio Ramirez as the "architect and director" who completed the mission church in 1815.
A Franciscan novitiate was established on site in 1893 and later developed into San Luis Rey College. Today it is a retreat and conference center.
The mission was the site for several episodes of the Walt Disney T.V. series Zorro in the 1950s.