San Rafael Arcangel Founded
December 14, 1817 by Father Vicente de Sarria California
Historic Landmark #220
mission was named for Saint Raphael, the angel of healing
miles north of the city of San Francisco in the city of San Rafael
mission was founded by Father vicente de Sarria on 14 December 1817.
At its onset, it was not meant to be a full mission. It was to be an
asistencia mission of Mission San Francisco de Asis. They needed a
place to treat the sick among the Indians from their mission. They
felt the weather was more dry and better in the new mission. Just a
few years later on 19 October 1822, the mission was granted full
The mission struggled with
difficulties. There was much tension between the Soldiers, Indians
and Padres. It functioned as a mission for just 17 years, but made
many conversions, grew crops and raised animals to help it become
self-sufficient. San Rafael never did have a quadrangle like the
other missions. At first, it wasn't meant to be a full mission, but
even later, when full status was given, no quadrangle was built.
When a new Senior Padre came around 1831, he had trouble handling
the needs of the mission. Father Jose Maria Mercado was known for
his impulsive actions and not always making good choices. He
mis-judged the intentions of Indians coming toward the mission and
attacked them, killing 21 and injuring many. He was then suspended
from mission work for a time.
two years later, when Mexico ended the Missions in 1834, they
offered the land to the Indians, but most either didn't want the
land or couldn't afford the price. Thus, most was divided up into
smaller ranchos and cold to Mexican citizens. Around 30 years later,
the missions returned to the Catholic Church through a proclamation
signed by US President Abraham Lincoln. When the Missions were taken
from the Church, San Rafael was one of the first to go in 1833. A
few Indians remained for a time, but by 1844, all of the mission was
virtually abandoned. The ruins of the buildings were sold in 1846.
John Fremont also used the deserted mission as his headquarters
during the time when California was attempting to become a US
priest once again came back to the broken down mission in 1847 and
by 1861 a new parish church was built. The remainder of the
buildings were removed for progress in the city of San Rafael. About
the only thing left of the original mission was one pear tree.
Restoration efforts did not begin until 1949 when Msgr. Thomas
Kennedy had the chapel re-built. Now the mission replica is next to
the newer parish church of St. Raphael.
San Rafael Arcángel 1104 Fifth
Avenue San Rafael, CA 94901 Phone: 415-454-8141
This mission was built in
the shape of an "L" instead of in a more normal
quadrangle. The long part of the L was about 125 feet long and
contained the hospital, some apartments, supply rooms and the
mission store. The smaller portion of the L contained the chapel.
The current Catholic parish church sits on the same ground where the
old mission chapel had been.
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last updated on 28 June 2012 at 3:30 pm
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