|Featured Mission: Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
This month, we're profiling Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, located in Oceanside, California. (MAP)
Mission San Luis Rey was the 18th mission, founded in June 1798 by Friar Lasuén. The mission is named for King Louis IX of France. Louis was taught by the early Franciscans and is the patron of their 3rd order. He also was of Spanish blood on his mother's side and died fighting in the Crusades. He was canonized in 1297.
The inland site was chosen for the fertile valley and good source of fresh water for farming and raising livestock. Timbers for the church came from Mount Palomar and were transported to the site by way of the river.
At the time of its founding, the mission owned over 950,000 acres of land; today the grounds comprise a mere 56 acres.
This mission claimed the largest number of Native American converts of any mission. The local Native Americans were called "Luiseños" by the Spanish because they were associated with San Luis Rey. A branch of the southern Shoshone nation, they were also known as Payomkawichum, or "People of the West," by other tribes.
Original mission buildings include the church, cemetery wall, gardens, kilns, and a lavanderia (laundry and washing area featuring carved gargoyle spouts). Other parts of the mission complex were built in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
To help ensure that this beautiful historic site survives into the future, Mission San Luis Rey (under the leadership of the mission's Executive Director, Friar David Gaa, O.F.M.) has undertaken a major seismic retrofitting project.
CURRENT PRESERVATION EFFORTS
Last year, to support this vital work, the California Missions Foundation aided Mission San Luis Rey in securing a $640,000 Save America's Treasures (SAT) grant from the National Parks Service. This is a challenge grant, requiring the mission to raise an equal sum in matching funds from other sources.
CMF's Executive Director, Knox Mellon, recently met with Fr. Gaa to discuss the work at the mission and matching the SAT grant. "I was very impressed with Friar David, his vision and his commitment to Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia," Dr. Knox said following their meeting. "I had every confidence that he would raise the matching funds and ensure that the project work was done well and properly. So I was not surprised when he informed me that the matching dollars had been obtained."
A significant portion of that match was raised with the help of CMF. On January 26, CMF was proud to present the mission with $55,000 in matching funds from the Linden Root Dickinson Foundation ($20,000) and the Hearst Foundation ($35,000).
"I am most grateful for the support offered by these two grants, which will help us to preserve Old Mission San Luis Rey," said Fr. Gaa. "The Mission is part of North County's cultural heritage, which we are hoping to maintain for future generations."
For more information on the past and present of this beautiful mission, you can visit the Mission San Luis Rey website.