San Luis Rey de Francia Side View

San Luis Rey Francia Key Facts

San Luis Rey de Francia was founded on June 13, 1798.  This eighteenth mission quickly became the most prosperous of the California missions. San Luis Rey’s stately church and long corridor with 32 Roman arches spanning the front of the convento, has been carefully restored. The mission has a modern museum and many unique attractions.

General Information

San Luis Rey Francia

Founded:
June 13, 1798
Also Called:
Mission San Luis Rey
Current Status:
A consecrated Roman Catholic Church attached to the Franciscan Community at San Luis Rey de Francia.
Summary:
San Luis Rey de Francia was founded on June 13, 1798.  This eighteenth mission quickly became the most prosperous of the California missions. San Luis Rey’s stately church and long corridor with 32 Roman arches spanning the front of the convento, has been carefully restored. The mission has a modern museum and many unique attractions.

Key Facts About This Mission

Named For

King Luis IX of France, who led crusades to the Holy Land in the 13th century

Founding Father President

Fr. Lasuen Fr. Fermin Franciso Lasuen

Founding Missionaries

Frs. Antonio Peyrí and José Faura were the first assigned religious

Prominent Missionary Leader

Fr. Peyri Father Peyrí led the mission for thirty-six years. He was not only an energetic leader with a genial disposition but he was also a talented architect and builder.

Indians Joining Mission

The Takic speaking people associated with Mission San Luis Rey have been called Luiseños 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.

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.

Layout

San Luis Rey 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. 

 

A French sea captain who visited California 1827-1828, Auguste Duhaut-Cilly drew a detailed drawing of San Luis Rey.

Water Source

The nearby San Luis Rey River and two springs fed an aqueduct or zanja that supplied water through two fountains and a charcoal filtration system before irrigating fields.

Population

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.

Livestock

San Luis Rey Cattle Brand 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, including 27,500 cattle and 26,100 sheep, dwarfing all other mission herds in size.

Agricultural Output

San Luis Rey harvested 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 with 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

Baptismal Font There is an original, hand hammered baptismal font in the baptistery, along with religious iconography and mission era art and artifacts exhibited in a beautiful interpretive museum.

Significant Event(s)

Peyri's last farewell and blessing The departure of Fr. Antonio Peyrí. 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.

Secularized

1834

Year Returned to Catholic Church

1865

Interesting Facts

Pala Asistencia 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. Peyrí to further their education and train for the priesthood.

A document from the mission's cornerstone identifies master carpenter Jose Antonio Ramírez 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.

Additional Information

Quasha. J. Mission San Luis Rey de Francia. (PowerKids Press, Missions of California Series)

Tac, P. Indian Life and Customs At Mission San Luis Rey: A Record Of California Mission Life. (Reprint of a classic.)

Engelhardt, Z. (1921). San Luis Rey, the King of the Missions. (The definitive early history of the mission)

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