San Rafael Arcángel Mission

San Rafael Arcángel Key Facts

San Rafael Archangel was founded as a hospital asistencia (sub-mission) on December 14, 1817, and given full mission status on October 19, 1822. A replica of the original chapel was built in 1919, close to Parish church of Saint Raphael. The gift shop/museum has several interesting artifacts.

General Information

San Rafael Arcángel

Founded:
December 14, 1817
Also Called:
Originally a hospital asistencia.
Current Status:
The mission Chapel is used for special events and is part of the parish of St. Rafael of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Summary:
San Rafael Archangel was founded as a hospital asistencia (sub-mission) on December 14, 1817, and given full mission status on October 19, 1822. A replica of the original chapel was built in 1919, close to Parish church of Saint Raphael. The gift shop/museum has several interesting artifacts.

Key Facts About This Mission

Named For

Saint Rafael, patron of good health and travelers.

Founding Father President

Fr. Vincente de Sarría

Founding Missionaries

Fr. Luis Gil y Taboada

Indians Joining Mission

Coast Miwok Primarily Coast Miwok and Pomo

Mission Site

15 miles north of San Francisco at the native site of Anaguani. Since San Rafael was intended to be a "hospital" asistencia, a key consideration was that the location be in a sunnier and more protected environment than San Francisco, which was foggy, damp, and windy. 

The original mission buildings were razed in 1870. In 1919 the new St. Raphael Parish Church, with an imposing tower, was built on the site of the original chapel.

Layout

Painting before 1830 No effort was made to build a full complex. The initial building was a structure that measured 87 feet in length and 42 feet in width. It contained a hospital, chapel, padre's quarters, and a storage area.

Water Source

There was ample water in the area finally selected, which had several springs and a stream.

Population

The peak mission population was 1,051 in 1826. By 1840 only 150 neophytes remained.

Between 1817 and 1839 1,902 marriages were conducted at San Rafael.

Livestock

San Rafael Cattle Brand The herd was small by mission standards, but important for feeding the neophytes. In 1832 the mission had 2,120 cattle, 3,000 sheep, 370 horses ... and 2 hard-working mules.

Agricultural Output

In its short mission life (17 years) San Rafael had a relatively high agricultural output of approximately 97.000 bushels of grain and produce. Production centered on wheat although barley, corn, and beans were also important with peas, lentils, and chickpeas used in soups and stews. 

The mission had extensive vineyards and orchards, and was noted for the excellence of their pears.

Mission Church

Mission San Rafael Replica In 1949 a replica of the original mission chapel was constructed on mission property to the right of the main church built in 1919. The replica has a star window in the Mudéjar style said to have been copied from that at the Carmel Mission.

Mission Bells

Three of the original mission bells are displayed in the mission museum. Replicas now hang from a wooden bell rack to the left of the chapel entrance. 
 

San Rafael never had a campanario.

Mission Art

The interior of the chapel is contemporary in style. 

Saint Rafael Parish Church has a large bronze sculpture of San Rafael holding up a cross. 

Significant Event(s)

San Rafael was badly damaged in an Indian attack led by Chiefs Marin and Quintin in February 1829. Loyal neophytes saved the life of the mission padre, Fr. Juan Amoroso, by hiding him in the marshes.

Secularized

1834

Year Returned to Catholic Church

1855

Interesting Facts

Under the able leadership of Fr. Gil y Taboada, San Rafael became California's first sanitarium.

San Rafael maintained a substantial boat building operation, since boats were required to facilitate travel across the bay.

In 1846 John C. Fremont used the mission as his headquarters during the Mexican American War

 

After the mission ruins were removed in 1870, all that remained of the old mission site was a solitary pear tree. In 1909 the Native Sons of the Golden West erected a bell and sign on the original site.

Additional Information

Ching, J.C. (2002). Mission San Rafael Arcangel. (PowerKids Press, California Missions Series) 

Boule, M.N. (1988). The Missions: California's Heritage #20: Mission San Rafael Arcángel.

Coddington, K. (1966). Mission San Rafael: A Historical Guide.

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