Arcangel was founded on
December 14, 1817 by Father Vicente de Sarria. It was the 20th
mission in the 21 mission chain in Alta California. It was named for
Saint Raphael, the angel of healing. The mission was started as an
asistencia or branch of the Mission San Francisco de Asis. It was
established as a hospital to treat the sick Indians from Mission San
Francisco de Asis. The weather was much better here and helped the
Indians to get better. It was never intended to be a full mission
but, the mission grew and it was granted full mission status on
October 19, 1822.
Indians had a
difficult beginning at the
mission. Most of them were there as sick patients to be healed by the
hospital. Many Indians were cured under the care of Father Luis Gil
who took care of them and ran the hospital at the asistencia. Father
Juan Amoros taught the Indians the trades. They became expert
boatbuilders, blacksmiths, cowboys, carpenters and weavers. Many of
the local Miwok Indians came to live at the mission. By 1828, there
were 1,140 Indians living at the mission. Chief Marin was a mission
Indian who turned against the mission and caused trouble for the
mission with his friend Quintin. Later, he came back to life at the
mission. The county of Marin is named after him and the prison San
Quentin is named after his friend. They are both buried in the
cemetery at the mission.
economy of the
missions were similar to
each other 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. Although started as an asistencia and hospital, Mission San
Rafael Arcangel grew to be a self-supporting full mission. In 1828
the year when Father Amoros died, the mission had its largest number
of animals; 5,508. The wheat crop was 17,905 bushels and the bean
crop was 1,360 bushels.
1822 when the
asistencia became a full
mission, there was still no quadrangle built. In fact, Mission San
Rafael is one the few mission where no quadrangle was ever built. In
the later years at the mission there were many difficulties. There
was much fighting between the soldiers and the Indians and the
padres. Many Indians were needlessly killed in battles at this
mission. The Mission San Rafael Arcangel's 17 years were too short.
However, during those years it converted 1,873 Indians, raised 2,210
cattle, 4,000 sheep and 454 horses.
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. Mission San Rafael Arcangel was one of the first
missions to turned over to the Mexican Government in 1833. In 1840,
there were 150 Indians still at the mission. By 1844, Mission San
Rafael Arcangel was left abandoned. What was left of the empty
buildings was sold for $8,000 in 1846. The mission was used by John
Fremont as his headquarters during the battles to make California a
United States territory.
1847, a priest was
once again living at
the mission. A new parish church was built near the old chapel ruins
in 1861. In 1870, the rest of the ruins were removed to make room for
the city of San Rafael. All that was left of the mission was a single
pear tree form the old mission orchard. In 1949, Msgr. Thomas Kennedy
rebuilt and restored the chapel at the mission.
the Mission San
Rafael Arcangel sits
next to the parish church of St. Raphael. It is located on the site
of the original hospital established by Father Gil. It is open to
visitors and has a small museum and gift shop.
disabled. Get Netscape 3.0
or turn it on!
2. Mission San
Rafael Arcangel was founded....?
3. What Indian
Tribe was in the area of the San
4. Mission San
Rafael Arcangel was originally built
5. Who did the
actual building of the missions?
6. What happened
to the missions in 1834?
Indians took over
7. San Rafael
Arcangel is the only mission...?
been completely rebuilt
8. What is an
of a mission
9. What happened
became a state
San Rafael Arcangel was sold
10. What did
Abraham Lincoln agree to in 1863?
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
Mission - History and Facts
This project written by Rob
in partial fulfilment of the
Degree from Cal
Please send questions
and/or comments to Mr.
This page last updated
on February 28, 2015