California's oldest buildings are the Missions, built by the Spanish Catholic Church back in the late 1700's and early 1800's. We have 21 missions from San Diego all the way to San Francisco, I aim to visit all of them and today I'll show you the Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia.
1798 - Founded by Padre Fermin Lausen
1811 - Current church built - third in its location.
1833 - Secularized (Missions disbanded by Mexican decree)
1846 - Sold
1865 - Returned to Catholic Church
1893 - Rededicated
This Mission is located in Oceanside, CA, about a 30 minute drive from Downtown San Diego and while its not one of the biggest in California, there are several things to see, apart from the Mission itself.
On one side of the Church there is a cemetery that is still in use today, we saw some gravestones from the 1800's but many were contemporary. It is very nicely kept, very quiet....a place for rest.
The Church itself is so beautiful and old, in fact, there is a sign at the entrance warning people in the case of earthquakes to get the heck out of there since its not safe. Currently there are fundraising efforts going on for seismic retrofit of the building, if this is not done the State of California will close the Church. Click here to find out more about it.
I don't take pictures of the inside of the Church, except on this occasion when I took a photo of the dome ceiling. I can't express the Colonial beauty inside the Church and since this is a historical building, everyone is welcome to come in and enjoy it.
This Mission is very active when it comes to spiritual retreats and from the cordoned off courtyard we could see some of the living quarters. Everything about the Mission inspires tranquility and reflection.
Outside of the Mission as we walked around we saw the oldest pepper tree in California, planted by Fr. Antonio Peyri with seeds brought by a sailor from Peru in 1830 and it still stands big and strong today. This pepper tree does not produce the edible kind of peppers, instead they are used to treat wounds and infections due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
One of my favorite parts of the Mission was the laundry ruins, in the second picture you can see how close we were from traffic and civilization, but we could barely hear it. It truly felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.
My absolute favorite thing in my two visits to this Mission? Picking tunas! To this day the prickly pears (tunas) we picked early September last year were the sweetest I've ever tasted. Even though we suffered with the tiny pricks from the cactus. But just look at them! The cactus were overflowing with them and we had the best time picking them. Although next time we will be better prepared clothing-wise.
In case you are wondering, here is a post on How to Eat Tunas and How to Cook Nopales.
California Missions - a Pictorial Tour (book)
Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia site