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Footsteps of History

The California Missions

San Gabriel

Mission San Gabriel Arcangel
Founded September 8, 1771
"Queen of the Missions"
Fourth Mission of the California Mission Chain
Naming of Mission:
The mission was named for the Archangel Gabriel, whose name means "Strength of God."
Sometimes called the Pride of the Missions. This mission was important in the history and development of the Los Angeles area.
10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles
Founded on 8 September 1771, under the direction of Father Junipero Serra, by Father Pedro Benito Cambon and Father Angel Somera. Father Cambon was also a founder of the San Francisco Mission. The mission San Gabriel had to find its place and moved three times before finding the right spot. The design was by Father Antonio Cruzado. It is different from many of the others in that the entrance is on the side of the building rather than at its front. It is the only mission with Moorish style architecture and is said to have been modeled after the Cathedral of Cordova in Spain.
The local Indian tribe is the Gabrielino. At first, they were hesitant because the soldiers were unkind, but the fathers gained their trust and many of them flocked to the mission. There are over 6,000 Indians buried in the mission cemetery. Because of its location at a major crossroads from distant areas, the mission drew many visitors. Most were just weary travelers wanted a place to rest, eat and sleep, but some were soldiers and others who were quite troublesome. This caused difficulties for the Fathers and local Indians at times.
The mission did a good job in sustenance. Many crops were grown with corn and beans being the most common. The mission grew more wheat than any other mission. San Gabriel supplied most of the soap and candles used by all the other missions. They used their large excess as trade and to sell to help provide funds for the growing mission. In 1812, an earthquake destroyed the bell tower and other parts of the mission. The granary was used for housing until repairs could be made. This took until 1828, but the bell tower was never replaced. Instead a bell wall (campanario) was built with six bells.
After secularlization in 1834, the mission gradually fell into dis-repair, becoming neglected and deserted. The church was used by the city from 1862 until 1908. In 1908, the Claretian Missionary Fathers came and began to the large task of restoring the mission. The Whittier-Narrows earthquake on 1 October 1987 caused damage to the mission. It temporarily closed while necessary repairs were made. More restoration and repair continues today.
Contact the Mission:
Mission San Gabriel Arcangel
428 So. Mission Drive
San Gabriel, California 91776
Gift Shop Phone: 626-457-3048
Phone: 626-457-3035

Mission Trivia:
There is a legend for the mission about a group of natives who were attacking the church. The fathers were very frightened and held of a painting of Our Lady of Sorrows (Virgin Mary). They say the attackers were so awe-struck by the painting that they stopped attacking and laid their necklaces down on the altar. The painting is still held at the mission.
The mission church is the oldest building of its type south of Monterey. It is 150 feet long with walls 30 feet high. The walls are five feet thick. The church can hold about 400 people. It was built from stone, brick and mortar and was completed in 1805 after having been started in 1791..
This mission has no belltower rather it has a bell wall with six bells.
Mission Links
Site with many pictures of the Mission
Information about the San Gabriel Mission
More information about the Mission

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This page was last updated on 28 June 2012 at 10:30 pm
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