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Mission San Diego de Alcalá

10818 San Diego Mission Rd

San Diego, CA 92108

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá was founded on July 16, 1769 by Father Junípero Serra, a Spanish friar.  Located in what is now San Diego, it was the very first Franciscan mission in the New Spanish province of The Californias.

Quick Facts:

  • This mission was the first in a chain of the 21 that were founded in Upper California during the period.

  • In 1976 the mission was named a basilica. This is an honor bestowed by the Pope that designates a church of important historical significance.

  • MIssion San Diego is part of the Diocese of San Diego and is staffed by secular priests. The only missions still.

  • The Native Americans that lived in the region when the mission was founded were called Kumeyaay.

  • San Diego is the first point on the El Camino Real, or the King’s Highway. This is a chain of 21 missions stretching 600 miles to the north.  Each mission is designed to be a day’s walk apart from the next.

  • The mission site is a National Historic Landmark.

  • The current church is the fifth to stand on this location. It was built in the early 1800’s.

  • The first vineyards in California were planted at the Mission in 1769 and the Mission was producing wine by 1781. The vineyards on mission properties were said to be 50,000 acres at one point, and they continued to grow grapes until 1823.

The mission and the region were named for the Catholic Didacus of Alcalá, who was more commonly known as San Diego.

The first Christian burial in Upper California took place at the Mission. Father Luis Jayme, Alta California's first Catholic martyr, lies buried in a common vault beneath the main and side altar. San Diego was also the site of Alta California’s first public execution in 1788.

The Mission has 5 bells.  Bells were an important part of everyday life, as they were rung to mark mealtimes, prayer times, religious services and other activities. In addition, the bells were sounded at births, funerals and other significant occasions.

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