Luis Rey de Francia "The
King of the Missions" Eighteenth Mission, 13 June 1798 A
National Historic Landmark
Rey in 1894
View of the mission
Naming of Mission:
The mission was named for
Louis IX, King of France and is known as the "King of the
Missions" because it is the largest of all the missions. Father
Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, the mission's founder, chose the name
for the King because he left his native France to fight for the Holy
Land during the Crusades.
The mission is forty miles
north of San Diego and just a few miles east of Oceanside in San
Diego County. The mission is between Interstate 5 and Interstate 15
on Highway 76 in North San Diego County
Mission San Luis Rey de
Francia was founded on the Feast of St. Anthony, June 13th,
1798 by Father Lasuen, a friend and co-worker with Father Junipero
Serra. Fifty-four Indians were baptized the same day as the
founding. Father Lasuen chose the site for the mission, but it was
built under the direction of Father Antonio Peyri, who served here
for 34 years. The mission thrived under his leadership with as many
as 3,000 Indians in and around the mission at one time. Early on,
there were a number of primitive buildings for various uses until
more permanent housing could be erected. The existing mission
building was begun in 1811. This building was completed four years
later. The mission grew and prospered with lands extending out up to
15 miles from the mission. The mission also had more ordinances
performed during its tenure than any other mission in the chain. By
1818, San Luis Rey had six mission ranches, Pala, Santa Margarita,
San Jacinto, Santa Ysabel, Temecula and San Pedro.
Since Father Peyri
remained here at San Luis Rey for thirty-four years, the Indians
greatly loved him. Father Peyri left the mission in 1829 after the
Mexican expulsion order was signed. They say he left in the middle
of the night because he didn't want the his dear Indian friends to
try to persuade him to stay.
The law of secularization
was passed in 1821 when Mexico became independent from Spain. Mexico
gave the missions ten years to teach the Indians what they needed to
know the run the missions and then the missions would be turned into
a pueblo. Many local Indians left the mission and the lands were
sold. The local Luiseno Indians received the San Luis Rey missions
lands, but advantage was taken of them by colonialists who were able
to buy it for a pittance from the Indians. Eventually, the tribe was
left with nothing.
Once California became a
state, soldiers used the mission as a base. General Kearny, led here
by Kit Carson, camped here with his troops from 1849 to 1857. They
were to protect the lands and properties and protect the
President Lincoln signed papers returning the
lands and missions to the Catholic Church in 1865. It wasn't until
much later in 1892, that a group of Franciscan Priests from
Zacatecas, Mexico came. Soon after, Father Joseph Jeremiah O'Keefe
arrived to lead the group and begin the huge task of restoration. A
year later the building and restoration began. The church was
finally re-dedicated on 12 May 1893 by Bishop Mora. Then, the living
quarters were re-built in 1903. Father O'Keefe stayed until 1912
when the major restoration work was completed. A Franciscan college
was built in 1949 and other restoration was done in 1984 to help
preserve the exteriors of the existing buildings.
The largest mission in the
chain, San Luis Rey's buildings cover almost six acres. They are
placed around a quadrangle as was often the case with the missions.
The quadrangle at this mission covers 500 square feet. A large
lavanderia (laundry area) was in front of the mission, along iwth a
beautiful sunken garden. The water was purified by a charcoal filter
system. There was also a lim kiln in this area for tiles and
materials and for tanning hides. Today, the mission is used as a
parish church. It is also used extensively as a place for retreats
and conferences. Mission San Luis Rey was designated a National
Historic Landmark in 1970.
Antonio de Pala Mission was founded in 1810 by Father Peyre to
assist the larger Mission San Luis Rey. It was initially used as a
granary. A chapel and houses were added later. There were four
Asistencia missions in San Diego County. Today the Pala Mission
remains in use as a parish church for the Pauma Indians. The site
looks much the same as it did many years ago.
San Luis Rey 4050 Mission Avenue Oceanside, CA
92057-6402 Phone: 760-757-3651 Ext. 148 Gift Shop Phone:
760-757-3651, extension 112
Father Peyri is remembered
for the first pepper tree brought to California although it was
planted a year after his departure.
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last updated on 28 June 2012 at 6:12 pm
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