If history is something you enjoy reading, you are sure to know; the sixteenth century was a period of adventurous explorations for Europe. The entire continent was filled with the excitement of the new awakening created by the renaissance. The sailors of Spain were the most renowned among skilled explorers in the region.
Spain already had settlements in the US. And, the Spanish King decided to authorize new expeditions to explore northwards from Mexico, their foothold in the area.
They already knew what to do and what not to be able to colonize a region. For this reason, he asked Catholic priests to establish Missions. This, the King thought would convert the Natives to Catholicism and teach them Spanish culture. The Catholics were divided into several factions. And, it was the Franciscan Missionaries who established the first among the twenty-one Missions in California. They had a book describing how to attract the Natives. It also contained information on the daily schedule to be followed. With this as a guideline, Father Serra founded the first among the chain of Missions, Mission San Diego de Alcala in the year 1769. This began an era of Spanish conquest which lasted for 54 years. The 21 Missions they established extend from the Southern part of San Diego to the north of San Francisco.
The Mission architecture was different for every single one. However, they fulfilled the following common requirements.
- Protection from wild animals and the elements of nature,
- Safety from natives who were against the Missions.
The churches were built at the center. It remained surrounded by other buildings so as to ensure utmost protection from all unfriendly elements in the colony. As years passed by, the design of the buildings underwent drastic changes and they became great mansions.
Fr. Antonio Peyri
The name of this priest is always held in highest regard by the historians and explorers of Mission period. He was elected to head the founding of Old Mission San Luis Rey, the 18th among the California Missions. Fr. Antonio Peyri was born and brought up in Catalonia in Spain, a region known for its religious arts and trade. In the age of 15, he joined the Franciscan order and became a priest after 9 years. With his religious fervor and magnetic personality, he became the favourites of all religious leaders of the time. He was sent to Spain along with 20 other priests to New Spain in the year 1795. After a few years of training in Missionary work, he was sent to California. Within two years, he was elected to head the team overseeing the founding of San Luis Rey.
The growth of the Mission
Within the time of 34 years, Fr. Peyri transformed the Mission from a hut made from grass to a splendid building. Reports say that this was the most powerful among the Missions. It was also the most populated and maintained the reputation where the residents enjoyed the best treatment among all the Spanish settlements.
Today, the Mission is a great retreat center offering a variety of options to the retreatants. Exploring this is sure to give you a good idea of the prosperity it enjoyed in the past.
Contact Person: Maureen Sullivan
Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
Address: 4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, CA 92057-6402
Tel/Fax: (760) 757-3651