Mission San Miguel
Arcangel was founded on
July 25, 1797 by Father Fermin Lasuen, Presidente of the California
Missions Chain. It was the 16th mission in the 21 mission chain in
Alta California and the 3rd mission founded during the summer of
1797. It was named for Saint Michael, the Arcangel. One of the chief
purposes of this mission was to facilitate travel between Mission San
Luis Obispo de Tolosa and Mission San Antonio de Padua. The mission
system was designed so that each mission was one day's travel from
its neighbor. The church is 144 feet long ,27 feet wide and 40 feet
tall. The walls are 6 feet thick. The inside of the mission has never
been repainted. This means the the colors you see were created and
painted by the Indians.
On July 25, 1797, at
of Mission San Miguel Arcangel, 15 Indian children were baptized.
This was the beginning of a long and friendly relationship with the
Spanish Padres and the Salinan Indians. They eagerly awaited the
arrival of the padres and the establishment of this mission. The
Indians had heard good things about the missions and wanted to be
part of the system. Several Indian families from other missions even
came to help in the beginning of this mission. The number of Indians
at the mission grew to over 1,000.
Mission San Miguel
Arcangel was a busy and
active mission. The economy at Mission San Miguel Arcangel 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. The Indians at the mission were excellent at making roof
tiles. Between 1808 and 1809, they made 36,000 tiles. They would sell
or trade the tiles to other missions. Mission San Miguel Arcangel was
one of the most prosperous of all of the missions.
Mission San Miguel
Arcangel was set up as a
midway point between the missions San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and
Mission San Antonio de Padua. The Indians were friendly and even
anxious to be part of the mission. Travellers were always welcomed
with a place to stay and food to eat. In 1806 a fire destroyed two
rows of buildings and the roof of the church. Nearby missions helped
out with tools, supplies and materials so the mission could be
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.
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. In 1846 Governor Pio Pico sold the mission for $600
to Petronillo Rios and William Reed. Reed used the mission as a
family residence and a store. In 1848, Reed left to find gold as a
participant in the California Gold Rush. Upon his return, 5 runaway
sailors robbed and killed everyone at the mission. They were
eventually captured but they left 11 people dead. The mission was a
stopping place for miners coming from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
The mission was used as a saloon, dance hall, storeroom and living
after 38 years without a resident padre, Father Philip Farrelly
became the First Pastor of Mission San Miguel Arcangel. Through all
the years the priests kept the church in condition and it is called
the best-preserved church in the mission chain today. In 1928,
Mission San Miguel Arcangel and Mission San Antonio de Padua were
returned to the Franciscan order of priest. Since then, the mission
has been repaired and restored.
Today the mission is
similar to the old
mission days. It is located in the town of San Miguel just 7 miles
north of Paso Robles. It continues to serve the town as an active
parish church. It has one of the best preserved interior and gives
one of the best examples of old mission life.
Objective: answer 7 questions correctly.
disabled. Get Netscape 3.0
or turn it on!
2. Mission San Miguel Arcangel was
3. What Indian Tribe was in the area of
4. Mission San Miguel Arcangel is know
5. Who did the actual building of the
6. What happened to the missions in 1834?
Indians took over
7. San Miguel Arcangel was established as
for Indian prisoners
point between San Luis Obispo
de Tolosa and San Antonio de Padua
8. The Indians at the mission were best
ability to raise cattle
well made roof tiles
the Reed family
9. What happened in 1846?
California Gold Rush
mission was sold for $600
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
Missions Interactive Homepage
History of Mission San Miguel Arcangel
- Summary History of this mission from its
foundation in 1797 to 1986 with an emphasis on its architecture and
associated preservation issues. Bibliography.
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