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Mission San Miguel Arcángel facts for kids

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Mission San Miguel Arcángel
Mission San Miguel Arcángel
San Miguel's various-sized arches are a noted feature of this mission
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Location 775 Mission Street
San Miguel, San Luis Obispo County, California 93451
Coordinates 35°44′41″N 120°41′53″W / 35.74472°N 120.69806°W / 35.74472; -120.69806
Name as founded La Misión del Gloriosísimo Príncipe Arcángel, Señor San Miguel 
English translation The Mission of the Very Glorious Archangel Prince, Sir Saint Michael
Patron Saint Michael the Archangel
Nickname(s) "Mission on the Highway" ...  
"The Unretouched Mission" 
Founding date July 25, 1797 
Founding priest(s) Father Fermín Lasuén 
Area 0.4 acres (0.16 ha)
Built 1821
Architectural style(s) Queen Anne
Founding Order Sixteenth
Military district Third
Native tribe(s)
Spanish name(s)
Native place name(s) Valica 
Baptisms 2,471
Marriages 764
Burials 1,868
Secularized 1834
Returned to the Church 1859
Governing body Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey
Current use Parish Church
Designated July 14, 1971
Reference no. 71000191
Designated March 20, 2006
Reference no. #326
General view of Mission San Miguel Arcangel from the southeast, ca.1904 (CHS-2245)
Mission San Miguel Arcangel around 1906

Mission San Miguel Arcángel is a Spanish mission in San Miguel, San Luis Obispo County, California. It was established on July 25, 1797 by the Franciscan order, on a site chosen specifically due to the large number of Salinan Indians that inhabited the area, whom the Spanish priests wanted to evangelize.

The mission remains in use as a parish church of the Diocese of Monterey. After being closed to the public for six years due to the 2003 San Simeon earthquake, the church reopened on September 29, 2009. Inside the church are murals designed by Esteban Munras.

The mission was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and was named to a National Historic Landmark in 2006. Of California's missions, it is one that retains more than most of its layout and buildings, including a portion of its neophyte village.


Father Fermín Lasuén and Father Buenaventura Sitjar founded the mission on July 25, 1797, making it the sixteenth California mission. Its location between Mission San Luis Obispo and Mission San Antonio de Padua provided a stop on the trip that had previously taken two days. A temporary wooden church was built with living quarters. The site was chosen as it was close to a Salinan Indian village called Vahca. In 1798 the small chapel was replaced. From 1816 to 1818 a new church was constructed with a tile roof and courtyard.

Mission San Miguel Arcángel land was sold off after the Mexican secularization act of 1833. The William Reed family lived in the buildings until 1848, when they were murdered by a band of thieves. Padre Abella, the last Franciscan at San Miguel, died in July, 1841.

In 1859 the U.S. government returned the mission to the Catholic Church. But with the buildings in poor condition, no priests were assigned to the mission; buildings were rented to some small businesses. In 1878 the Church reactivated the mission, and Rev. Philip Farrelly took up residence as First Pastor of Mission San Miguel. In 1928 the mission was returned to the Franciscan Padres, the same group who had founded the mission in 1797.


  • The Mission Arcade, a series of 12 arches, is original. The variety of shapes and sizes was planned and the Mission was known for this arcade.
  • The first chapel on the site was replaced within a year of its construction by a larger adobe chapel, which burned in the 1806 fire.
  • The current mission church was built between 1816 and 1818. It is 144 long, 27 feet (8.2 m) wide, and 40 feet (12 m) high.
  • The cemetery adjacent to the church holds the remains of 2,249 Native Americans listed in the Mission's burial records.
  • The painted walls inside the church are the original artwork by artist Esteban Munras and other Salinan artists.

Mission bells

Bells were vitally important to daily life at any mission. The bells were rung at mealtimes, to call the Mission residents to work and to religious services, during births and funerals, to signal the approach of a ship or returning missionary, and at other times; novices were instructed in the intricate rituals associated with the ringing the mission bells.


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