San Antonio de Padua

San Antonio de Padua Key Facts

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.   

General Information

San Antonio de Padua

Founded:
July 14, 1771
Current Status:
Consecrated Roman Catholic Church where religious services are held and a retreat center open to all denominations.
Summary:
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

Named For

Saint Anthony of Padua, a thirteenth-century Franciscan, the finder of lost possessions.

Founding Father President

Fr. Junipero Fr. Junipero Serra

Founding Missionaries

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.

Franciscans in front of San Antonio de Pauda 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.

Mission Site

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. 

Layout

Governor Earl Warren at mission San Antonio de Padua  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.

Water Source

San Antonio River, about three miles above the mission. Water was brought by aqueducts or zanjas and stored in reservoirs. 

Population

The highest recorded population was 1,217, in 1806.

Livestock

San Antonio de Padua Cattle Brand  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. 

Agricultural Output

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. 

Mission Church

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. 

Mission Bells

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.

Mission Art

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.

Significant Event(s)

Juan Bautista de Anza 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.

Secularized

1834

Year Returned to Catholic Church

1863

Interesting Facts

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.

Additional Information
  • 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)

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