Mission San Miguel Arcángel

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Mission San Miguel Arcángel
Mission San Miguel Arcángel
San Miguel's various-sized arches are a noted feature of this mission
Mission San Miguel Arcángel is located in California
Mission San Miguel Arcángel
Location of Mission San Miguel Arcángel in California
Mission San Miguel Arcángel is located in the United States
Mission San Miguel Arcángel
Mission San Miguel Arcángel (the United States)
Location775 Mission Street
San Miguel, San Luis Obispo County, California 93451
Coordinates35°44′41″N 120°41′53″W / 35.74472°N 120.69806°W / 35.74472; -120.69806Coordinates: 35°44′41″N 120°41′53″W / 35.74472°N 120.69806°W / 35.74472; -120.69806
Name as foundedLa Misión del Gloriosísimo Príncipe Arcángel, Señor San Miguel [1]
English translationThe Mission of the Very Glorious Archangel Prince, Sir Saint Michael
PatronSaint Michael the Archangel[2]
Nickname(s)"Mission on the Highway" ...  [3]
"The Unretouched Mission" [4]
Founding dateJuly 25, 1797 [5]
Founding priest(s)Father Fermín Lasuén [6]
Area0.4 acres (0.16 ha)
Architectural style(s)Queen Anne
Founding OrderSixteenth[2]
Military districtThird[7]
Native tribe(s)
Spanish name(s)
Native place name(s)Valica [8]
Returned to the Church1859[2]
Governing bodyRoman Catholic Diocese of Monterey
Current useParish Church
DesignatedJuly 14, 1971
Reference no.71000191[10]
DesignatedMarch 20, 2006[11]
Reference no.#326
Mission San Miguel Arcangel around 1906

Mission San Miguel Arcángel is a Spanish mission in San Miguel, San Luis Obispo County, California. It was established on July 25, 1797 by the Franciscan order, on a site chosen specifically due to the large number of Salinan Indians that inhabited the area, whom the Spanish priests wanted to evangelize.

The mission remains in use as a parish church of the Diocese of Monterey. After being closed to the public for six years due to the 2003 San Simeon earthquake, the church reopened on September 29, 2009. Inside the church are murals designed by Esteban Munras.[12]

The mission was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971[10] and was named to a National Historic Landmark in 2006.[11] Of California's missions, it is one that retains more than most of its layout and buildings, including a portion of its neophyte village.[12]


  • The Mission Arcade, a series of 12 arches, is original. The variety of shapes and sizes was planned[13] and the Mission was known for this arcade.
  • The first chapel on the site was replaced within a year of its construction by a larger adobe chapel, which burned in the 1806 fire.[13]
  • The current mission church was built between 1816 and 1818. It is 144 long, 27 feet (8.2 m) wide, and 40 feet (12 m) high.[13]
  • The cemetery adjacent to the church holds the remains of 2,249 Native Americans listed in the Mission's burial records.[13]
  • The painted walls inside the church are the original artwork by artist Esteban Munras and other Salinan artists.[13]

Mission bells[edit]

Bells were vitally important to daily life at any mission. The bells were rung at mealtimes, to call the Mission residents to work and to religious services, during births and funerals, to signal the approach of a ship or returning missionary, and at other times; novices were instructed in the intricate rituals associated with the ringing the mission bells.


Father Fermín Lasuén and Father Buenaventura Sitjar founded the mission on July 25, 1797, making it the sixteenth California mission. Its location between Mission San Luis Obispo and Mission San Antonio de Padua provided a stop on the trip that had previously taken two days.[14] A temporary wooden church was built with living quarters. The site was picked as it was close to a Salinan Indian village called Vahca. In 1798 the small chapel was replaced. From 1816 to 1818 a new church was constructed with a tile roof and courtyard.

Mission San Miguel Arcángel land sold off after the Mexican secularization act of 1833. The William Reed family lived in the buildings until 1848, when they were murdered by a band of thieves . The killers were tracked down by a posse of vigilantes in the foothills of Santa Barbara, two thieves died in the ensuing battle, and the other 3 were tried and shot. Then the mission was closed and decay started. In 1841 the last Franciscan left San Miguel.[15][16]

In 1859 the Mission was returned to the Catholic Church. But with the buildings all in ruins, no priests were assigned to the return mission. Parts were rented to some small businesses. In 1878 the Church reactivated the mission and priests were again living at the mission. [17]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leffingwell, p. 91
  2. ^ a b c d Krell, p. 254
  3. ^ Engelhardt
  4. ^ Ruscin, p. 129
  5. ^ Yenne, p. 140
  6. ^ Ruscin, p. 196
  7. ^ Forbes, p. 202
  8. ^ Ruscin, p. 195
  9. ^ a b c Krell, p. 315: as of December 31, 1832; information adapted from Engelhardt's Missions and Missionaries of California.
  10. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  11. ^ a b "Mission San Miguel Arcangel". National Historic Landmark Quicklinks. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 9 January 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  12. ^ a b Grimes, Theresa (May 19, 2005). "Mission San Miguel Arcángel" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places – Inventory Nomination Form. National Park Service. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Mission San Miguel Arcangel The park brochure". n.d. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ "history". Mission San Miguel. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Mission San Miguel Property and Padres". Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  16. ^ missionsanmiguel.com Mission San Miguel Reed family History
  17. ^ "California Missions". Retrieved 26 August 2016.


  • Coronado, Michael; Heather Ignatin (June 5, 2006). "Plan would open Prop. 40 funds to missions". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  • Engelhardt, Zephyrin, O.F.M. (1931). San Miguel Arcángel: The Mission on the Highway. Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Forbes, Alexander (1839). California: A History of Upper and Lower California. Smith, Elder and Co., Cornhill, London.
  • Jones, Terry L. and Kathryn A. Klar (eds.) (2007). California Prehistory: Colonization, Culture, and Complexity. Altimira Press, Landham, MD. ISBN 978-0-7591-0872-1.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Krell, Dorothy (ed.) (1979). The California Missions: A Pictorial History. Sunset Publishing Corporation, Menlo Park, CA. ISBN 0-376-05172-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Leffingwell, Randy (2005). California Missions and Presidios: The History & Beauty of the Spanish Missions. Voyageur Press, Inc., Stillwater, MN. ISBN 0-89658-492-5.
  • Paddison, Joshua (ed.) (1999). A World Transformed: Firsthand Accounts of California Before the Gold Rush. Heyday Books, Berkeley, CA. ISBN 1-890771-13-9.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Ruscin, Terry (1999). Mission Memoirs. Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, CA. ISBN 0-932653-30-8.
  • Yenne, Bill (2004). The Missions of California. Thunder Bay Press, San Diego, CA. ISBN 1-59223-319-8.

External links[edit]