Mission San Diego de Alcalá

Mission San Diego de Alcalá was founded on July 16, 1769, by Father Junípero Serra. Father Serra named the Mission for Didacus of Alcalá. San Diego de Alcalá is the first in the chain of twenty-one Spanish missions established along the coast of California State.

The Spanish expedition that founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá suffered great hardships and an enormous loss of lives. Eventually, the mixed religious and military group of Spaniards succeeded in establishing the first of the three initial missions planned in Alta California. With the settlement in Alta California of Spanish Missions and Presidios, Inspector General José de Gálvez sought to hold the northern frontier of the Spanish Empire from the advance of Russians and English.

In 1774, only five years after its establishment and because of the shortage of water supplies and poor soil quality, Father Francisco Palóu moved Mission San Diego de Alcalá from Presidio Hill six miles inland to the present site near the San Diego River. The new site was now distant from the Spanish military garrison on Presidio Hill and nearer the Kumeyaay Indian villages that the Franciscan Missionaries intended to convert to Christianity.

On November 4, 1775, an Indian attack burned and stormed the mission onto the grounds. Father Luis Jayme, who perished in the attack, became the first Christian Martyr of California. His body is buried under the altar in the present church. After the attack, the Mission Fathers capitulated and moved back under the protection of the Spanish garrison on Presidio Hill. The Fathers returned to the abandoned mission only a year later, in the summer of 1776. By 1780, the Franciscans had rebuilt the first California mission.

In 1801, an earthquake damaged Mission San Diego de Alcalá. The mission was secularized in 1833 and sold in 1845. In 1862, the United States returned San Diego de Alcalá to the Catholic Church. In 1931, Mission San Diego was restored to the superb structure we admire today.

The front of the church is one of the simplest of all California missions. The attached wall, a bell wall or Campanario, rises above the mission gardens and is impressive, making it one of the most beautiful among all California’s Spanish missions.

Location of Mission San Diego de Alcalá

10818 San Diego Mission Road, San Diego, CA 92108, United States

Official Website of Mission San Diego de Alcalá

Official Mission Website