San Antonio de Pala Asistencia

San Antonio de Pala Asistencia
San Antonio de Pala Asistencia
San Antonio de Pala Asistencia
The modern capilla (chapel) at "Pala Mission."
Location San Diego County
Name as founded Asistencia de la Misión San Luis, Rey de Francia [1]
English translation Sub-Mission to the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
Patron Saint Anthony of Lisbon, Portugal and Padova, Italy [1]
Founding date June 13, 1816 [2]
Founding priest(s) Father Antonio Peyrí [1]
Military district First
Native tribe(s)
Spanish name(s)
Native place name(s) Pale [3]
Governing body Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego
Current use Parish Church / Museum
Coordinates 33°21′40″N 117°04′45″W / 33.36111°N 117.07917°W / 33.36111; -117.07917
California Historical Landmark #243

The San Antonio de Pala Asistencia, or the "Pala Mission", was founded on June 13, 1816 as an asistencia ("sub-mission") to Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, some twenty miles inland upstream from the mission on the San Luis Rey River. It was part of the Spanish missions, asistencias, and estancias system in Las CaliforniasAlta California. Today it is located in the Pala Indian Reservation located in northern San Diego County, with official name is now Mission San Antonio de Pala.[2][4] It is the only historic mission facility still serving a Mission Indian tribe.

Pala (a derivation of the native term Pale, meaning water) was essentially a small rancho surrounded by large fields and herds. The Pala site had been noted by Father Juan Mariner and Captain Juan Pablo Grijalva on an exploratory trip in 1795, when they went up the San Diego River, and then through Sycamore Canyon to the Santa Maria Valley (or Pamó Valley) and into what they named El Valle de San José, now known as Warner Springs. Once Mission San Luis Rey began to prosper, its existence attracted the attention of large number of mountain Native Americans, called the Luiseño by the Spanish.


Spanish era

The site for the Pala Mission was selected because it already was a traditional gathering place and village for the Native American residents. Father Peyrí oversaw the addition of a chapel and housing to the granary complex that was constructed at the spot in 1810.[4] The chapel has interior wall surfaces featured paintings by native artists, originally measured 144 by 27 feet. Workers went into the Palomar Mountains and cut down cedar trees for use as roof beams.[5] Pala is unique among all of the Franciscan missions in that it boasts the only completely freestanding campanile, or "bell tower," in all of Alta California. By 1820, some 1,300 baptisms had been performed at the outpost.[6] Folk tales about the mission all include mention of a prickly pear cactus, a symbol of Christian victory, that grew up at the foot of the cross.[7]

Mexican era

The Mexican Congress passed An Act for the Secularization of the Missions of California on August 17, 1833 (the Act was ratified in 1834).[8] Father Buenaventura Fortuna surrendered Mission San Luis Rey and all its holdings, including Las Flores Estancia and the Pala Asistencia, to government comisianados (commissioners) Pío Pico and Pablo de la Portillà on August 22, 1835; the assessed value of "Rancho de Pala" was $15,363.25.[9] Fearful of the impending conquest of Alta California by the United States, Pico sold off all of the holdings (including Pala) to Antonio J. Cot and José A. Pico on May 18, 1846 for $2,000 in silver and $437.50 in wheat (the sale was later declared invalid by the U.S. Government).[6] Through the years, priests from San Luis Rey continued to visit Pala and conduct baptisms, marriages, and worship services.

Pala Asistencia, with its original bell tower, circa 1875. The structure is loosely styled after a similar one at the Mission of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe located in Juárez, Mexico.[10]

Modern era

On Christmas Day, 1899 the San Jacinto Earthquake shook the Pala Valley, causing the rook over the church sanctuary to collapse.[11] In 1902, a group calling itself the "Landmarks Club of Southern California", under the direction of American journalist, historian, and photographer Charles Fletcher Lummis, purchased Pala Mission. The following year, the Club returned ownership to the Catholic Church and "...saved the Chapel and a few rooms from complete ruin with a timely work of partial restoration...".[12]

Pala is alone among the California missions in that it that has ministered without interruption to the Mission Indians for whom it was originally built since its inception.[11] It is also the only sub-mission (Asistencia) still intact. The traditional Corpus Christi Fiesta has been celebrated every year since its founding. Though it lacked a resident priest, Pala nonetheless served as the "mother" mission to chapels in Cahuilla, La Jolla, Pauma, Pichanga, Rincon, Santa Rosa, and Temecula.[13] On August 9, 1942 MGM motion picture actress Ruth Hussey was wed at Pala Mission. In 1948 the Verona Fathers (Sons of the Sacred Heart) succeeded the Franciscans in the care of the Mission.[14] Six years later, the fathers undertook a complete restoration of the Mission. In May, 1991 administration of the Mission reverted to the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, and since June of 1996 the Barnabite Fathers have held charge over the Mission's affairs.

Mission bells

Pala's replica bell tower.

Bells were vitally important to daily life at any mission. The bells were rung at mealtimes, to call the Mission residents to work, religious services, birth and funeral ceremonies, and to signal the approach of a ship or returning Spaniard, and other occasions. Novices were instructed in the specific rituals for ringing the mission bells. Pala's bells are the same ones used since 1916. American academician, architect, and author Rexford Newcomb published design studies of the original bell tower in his 1916 work The Franciscan Mission Architecture of Alta California.[15] Ironically, the structure was completely destroyed by torrential rains later that same year; a precise replica was erected immediately thereafter and today stands in its place. The structure measures some 35 feet above the base (which itself is 15 feet off the ground) and supports two bells, each hanging from a rawhide tether.

The large bell, set in the lower embrasure, bears inscriptions in Latin and Spanish as follows (translated into English):

"Jesus, Redemptor of Mankind [IHR] Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, Have Mercy on us. Year of our Lord 1816" (upper band);
"Cervantes made us." (middle band); and
"[In honor of] Our Seraphic Father, Francis of Assisi, San Luis King, Saint Clara, Saint Eulalia, Our Light" (lower band).

The smaller bell, mounted in the upper opening, reads (in Latin):

"Jesus + Maria" (upper band); and
"Santus Deis, Santus Fortus, Santus Immortalis" and "Micerere nobis" (lower band).[16]


Pala Mission's "Centre Garden."
  1. ^ a b c Ruscin, p. 153
  2. ^ a b Leffingwell, p. 32
  3. ^ Ruscin, p. 195
  4. ^ a b Carillo. p. 7
  5. ^ Carillo, p. 8
  6. ^ a b Leffingwell, p. 33
  7. ^ Carillo, p. 18
  8. ^ Yenne, p. 19
  9. ^ Carillo, p. 9
  10. ^ Carillo, p. 16
  11. ^ a b Carillo, p. 11
  12. ^ Carillo, p. 33
  13. ^ Carillo, p. 39
  14. ^ Carillo, p. 12
  15. ^ Newcomb, pp. 58-59; 61
  16. ^ Carillo, pp. 17-18


  • Carillo, Fr. J.M. (1959). The Story of Mission San Antonio de Pala. North County Printers, Oceanside, CA. 
  • Jones, Terry L. and Kathryn A. Klar (eds.) (2007). California Prehistory: Colonization, Culture, and Complexity. Altimira Press, Landham, MD. ISBN 0-759-10872-2. 
  • Leffingwell, Randy (2005). California Missions and Presidios: The History & Beauty of the Spanish Missions. Voyageur Press, Inc., Stillwater, MN. ISBN 0-89658-492-5. 
  • Paddison, Joshua (ed.) (1999). A World Transformed: Firsthand Accounts of California Before the Gold Rush. Heyday Books, Berkeley, CA. ISBN 1-890771-13-9. 
  • Ruscin, Terry (1999). Mission Memoirs. Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, CA. ISBN 0-932653-30-8. 
  • Yenne, Bill (2004). The Missions of California. Thunder Bay Press, San Diego, CA. ISBN 1-59223-319-8. 

See also

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • San Bernardino de Sena Estancia — Infobox Missions caption=The estancia s bell wall was designed after the campanario at Mission San Antonio de Pala.| name=San Bernardino de Sena Estancia location=Redlands, California originalname= Estancia de la Misión San Gabriel, Arcángel… …   Wikipedia

  • Mission San Luis Rey de Francia — For the novel by Thornton Wilder, see The Bridge of San Luis Rey . Mission San Luis Rey de Francia Today, Mission San Luis Rey de Francia is well maintained. This Mission is architecturally distinctive due to the combination of Spanish… …   Wikipedia

  • Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles Asistencia — Another mission bearing the name Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles is the Mission Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Porciúncula de los Pecos in Pecos, New Mexico. Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles Asistencia Los Angeles Plaza circa 1847. The… …   Wikipedia

  • Mission San Gabriel Arcángel — A view of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in April 2005. The open stairway at the far right leads to the choir loft, and to the left is the six bell campanario ( bell wall ) that was built after the original bell structure, located at the far end of …   Wikipedia

  • Mission San Diego de Alcalá — The chapel façade of Mission San Diego de Alcalá as it appeared in 2008. Location 10818 San Diego Mission Rd. San Diego, California 92108 2429 Name as founded …   Wikipedia

  • Mission San Francisco de Asís — The original adobe Mission structure is the smaller building at left, while the larger structure is a basilica completed in 1918 (the architectural style was influenced by designs exhibited at San Diego s Panama California Exposition in 1915).[ …   Wikipedia

  • Mission San Rafael Arcángel — The reconstructed capilla (chapel) at Mission San Rafael Arcángel on a rainy day in December, 2004. Location 1104 5th Avenue San Rafael, California 94901 2916 Na …   Wikipedia

  • Mission San Juan Capistrano — This article is about the mission in California. For the mission of the same name in Texas, see Mission San Juan Capistrano (Texas). Mission San Juan Capistrano Mission San Juan Capistrano, photochrom print by William Henry Jackson c. 1899.… …   Wikipedia

  • Mission San Francisco de Solano — Another mission bearing the name San Francisco Solano is the Mission San Francisco Solano in Coahuila, Mexico. Mission San Francisco Solano Mission San Francisco Solano circa 1910. Location …   Wikipedia

  • Spanish missions in California — Part of the Spanish missions in the Americas series Arizona …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.