- July 14, 1771
- Consecrated Roman Catholic Church where religious services are held and a retreat center open to all denominations.
- San Antonio de Padua, California’s third mission, was founded on July 14, 1771. This mission was extensively restored (between 1948-1952). The extensively restored complex and grounds offer a lot for visitors to see. Mission San Antonio de Padua’s setting is much as a traveler would have experienced it two centuries ago.
Key Facts About This Mission
Saint Anthony of Padua, a thirteenth-century Franciscan, the finder of lost possessions.
Founding Father President
Fr. Junipero Serra
Frs. Miguel Píeras and Buenaventura Sitjar
Prominent Missionary Leaders
Fr. Buenaventura Sitjar remained at San Antonio de Padua for 37 years and is largely responsible for its success. This tireless missionary created a 400-page native vocabulary and used this to develop catechism in the Indian language.
Since the mission’s restoration, Franciscans have continued to provide religious services and hold retreats at Mission San Antonio de Padua, although they are no longer resident at the mission.
Indians Joining Mission
This was the first mission established in the land of the Salinan people at the site of Telhaya. In the mission era, the natives who became neophytes at San Antonio de Padua were called Antonianos. Mission records show the natives were predominantly Northern Salinan but there were some Yokuts and Esselen.
Located in the Santa Lucía Mountains in an oak-studded valley southeast of Monterey, on what is presently a military reservation. The setting of this mission is much as a traveler would have seen two centuries ago.
Traditional quadrangle, largely restored by W.R. Hearst and the Franciscans between 1948 and 1952.
Signs mark the location of important buildings and features, such as the water-powered gristmill, throughout the vast mission grounds.
San Antonio River, about three miles above the mission. Water was brought by aqueducts or zanjas and stored in reservoirs.
The highest recorded population was 1,217, in 1806.
In its peak livestock year of 1828, the mission had 20,118 animals, including 8,000 cattle, and 10,000 sheep.
For practicality, the herd was dispersed to several locations. Ranchos San Benito and San Bartolomé del Pleyto were used for sheep and lambs. There were cattle ranches at Los Ojitos and Rancho San Miguelito, all within three to ten leagues (10-30 miles) of the mission.
This mission quickly became self-sufficient. Over the years it was an active mission San Antonio harvested 110,000 bushels of wheat, barley, corn, beans, and peas.
The present or 3rd church was completed in 1813. In 1821, an arcade with three arched openings and fashioned from ladrillos, or burned brick, was built out from the church portico, giving the mission a unique appearance.
The church was extensively restored by the Landmarks Club between 1903 and 1908.
Each side of the facade includes a square bell tower, both of which have one bell. The 3rd and largest bell, which is original, is at the center of the arcade, over the largest arch.
The walls of this charming church boast colored decorations painted by the mission Indians. Behind the altar is a large bulto of the archangel San Miguel, with extended wings and just below, the bulto of the church patron, San Antonio.
In 1776, Lt. Col. Juan Bautista de Anza stayed at the mission with 240 immigrants from Sonora. San Antonio proved to be an important stop in Anza's pioneering effort to establish a land route from Mexico to Alta California.
Year Returned to Catholic Church
The first Catholic wedding to take place in California occurred here in 1773 between a Salinan Indian woman named Margaretta de Cortona and Spanish solider Juan María Ruiz.
Sailors brought two figureheads from colonial frigates. They stand in a display outside the arcade of the mission.
San Antonio de Padua was the first Alta California mission with a fired-tile or teja roof, and the very first with over 1,000 neophytes
San Antonio de Padua was known for the excellence of its music. Displays in the museum show musical notations on the walls and a large diagram of hand signals used to teach the neophytes.
For over three decades the mission has been the site of an annual archaeological field school directed by Dr. Robert Hoover of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
- Boulé, M.N. (1988). The Missions: California's Heritage: Mission San Antonio De Padua.
- Engelhardt, Z. (1929). Mission San Antonio de Padua, the Mission of the Sierras (The definitive early history of the mission)