Mission San Antonio de Padua
est. 1771

La Misión de San Antonio de Padua was founded by Father Junípero Serra on July 14, 1771 as the third mission in California. Though Father Serra moved on, Fathers Miguel Pieras and Buenaventura Sitjar stayed behind to develop the Mission. Unfortunately, the location chosen would periodically flood and the water supply was unreliable. In 1773, the Mission moved to the current location and the first, small church was constructed. In addition, a water system and reservoir were completed (much of which remains). By 1780, a second church was completed, and by 1790 the population of Mission San Antonio was over 1000; the largest in California.

By 1805, the Mission reached its peak population of nearly 1300. Five years later, construction began on a third and final church, which was completed three years later. In 1834, however, after secularization of the missions, Mission San Antonio rapidly deteriorated and in less than a decade was left in ruins. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln returned the Mission to the Catholic Church, but due to its remote location upkeep was difficult and it was ultimately abandoned in 1883. The Mission was soon plundered, and building materials removed for use elsewhere, leaving little more than crumbling adobe walls and part of the brick facade.

The first attempt at restoration began in 1903 by the newly-established California Historic Landmarks League, but their efforts were plagued by disaster. Torrential rains washed away their progress in 1904 and 1905, followed by the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. Nevertheless, they persisted and the restoration of the church was completed in 1907, with the League leaving the next year. In 1928, the Mission was returned to Franciscan control. Twenty years later, a second restoration was undertaken by the Hearst Foundation (as the Mission stood on land owned by William Randolph Hearst). With the exception of the already-restored church, the Mission was completely reconstructed in its current form using the original methods, and completed in 1950. It now sits on the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation, and the Department of Defense has provided archaeological support for the site. Despite its remote location, Mission San Antonio de Padua still serves as a functioning church, and a self-guided tour is offered of the extensive grounds and museum.

I Visited Mission San Antonio de Padua
10.27.2018

See Also
Jolon

Bibliography