Mission San Fernando
de Espana was
founded on September 8, 1797 by Father Fermin Lasuen, Presidente of
the California Missions Chain after the death of Father Junipero
Serra. It was the 17th mission in the 21 mission chain in Alta
California. It was named for Saint Ferdinand III, King of Spain, who
lived in the 1200's. The church is 243 feet long and 50 feet wide.
There are 21 Roman arches along the front of the mission. It was the
4th mission founded by Father Lasuen during the summer of
In 1804 nearly 1,000
Indians lived at the
mission. The Indians at the mission learned the trades of the
missions. Blacksmith, farming, ranching, carpentry, weaving,
leathermaking, brick making, and soapmaking all became important
trades at the mission. They were also known for their winemaking. The
Indians at San Fernando were famous for their grapes and wine. There
are over 2,000 people buried in the cemetery at the mission, most of
them are Indians.
The economy at Mission
San Fernando Rey de
Espana was similar to the other missions in that they planted crops
of wheat and corn. They also planted vineyards, and raised cattle and
sheep. The agriculture was needed not only to maintain the mission
community and the nearby Indians, but was used for trade and served
to visitors to the mission. San Fernando's most successful year was
1819 when it recorded 12,800 cattle, 7,800 sheep, 176 goats, 45 pigs,
144 mules and 780 horses. Cattle raising was the biggest industry for
the mission. The mission had large vineyards with grapevines that
came directly from Spain. In 1832, records show that the mission had
32,000 grapevines and 1,600 fruit trees.
When you approach
San Fernando Rey
de Espana, you will not even notice the church building. This is
because for years the mission was used as a rest stop, a hotel and
inn for weary travellers. The mission was built more as an inn and
that is why the church itself is off from the road.
After Mexico won its
Spain, it found that it could no longer afford to keep the missions
running as Spain had done. In 1834, Mexico decided to end the mission
system and sell all of the lands. They offered the lands to the
Indians who did not want the lands or could not come up with the
purchase price. The lands were divided into smaller Ranchos and sold
to Mexican citizens who were helpful during the war for independence.
In 1845, Governor Pio Pico declared mission buildings for sale and in
1846, made San Fernando Rey de Espana his headquarters. In 1842, the
mayordomo of the mission was digging for onions when he discovered
gold on the mission grounds. This was 6 years before the famous gold
rush of northern California. The mission was used for many things
during the late 1800's; it was a station for the Butterfield Stage
Lines; it was used as storerooms for the Porter Land and Water
Company; and in 1896, the quadrangle was actually used as a hog farm.
After nearly 30 years, the missions were returned to the Catholic
Church. Although some of the missions had already been returned to
the church, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an Act
declaring that all of the 21 missions in the California mission chain
would become the property of the Catholic Church and have remained so
since that time.
San Fernando's church
became a working
church again in 1923 when the Oblate priests arrived. Many attempts
were made to restore the old mission from the early 1900's, but it
was not until the Hearst Foundation gave a large gift of money in the
1940's, that the mission was finally restored. In 1971, a large
earthquake damaged the church which had to completely rebuilt. The
repairs were completed in 1974.
Mission San Fernando
de Espana is a
beautifully restored mission. It continues to be very well cared for
and is still used as a parish church. It has a very busy and active
life as a parish church.
Objective: answer 7 questions correctly.
disabled. Get Netscape 3.0
or turn it on!
Bautista de Anza
2. Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana was
3. Who was the Mission named after?
Ferdinand III, King of
4. When did the Mission once again become
5. Who did the actual building of the
6. What happened to the missions in 1834?
Indians took over
7. Who gave money so that the rebuilding
8. Who was the Mexican governor that made
9. What happened in 1842?
Mission was burned to the
discovered at the Mission
10. What did Abraham Lincoln agree to in
return the Mission lands to
President of the United
the San Antonio de Padua
the Indians to leave the
Mission Internet Trail
Spanish Missions of California
This project written by Rob
partial fulfilment of
of Arts Degree
Please send questions
and/or comments to Mr.
This page last updated
on February 28, 2015