Mission San Gabriel
Arcangel Founded September 8, 1771 "Queen of the
Missions" Fourth Mission of the California Mission Chain
Naming of Mission:
The mission was named for
the Archangel Gabriel, whose name means "Strength of God."
Sometimes called the Pride of the Missions. This mission was
important in the history and development of the Los Angeles area.
10 miles east of downtown
Founded on 8 September
1771, under the direction of Father Junipero Serra, by Father Pedro
Benito Cambon and Father Angel Somera. Father Cambon was also a
founder of the San Francisco Mission. The mission San Gabriel had to
find its place and moved three times before finding the right spot.
The design was by Father Antonio Cruzado. It is different from many
of the others in that the entrance is on the side of the building
rather than at its front. It is the only mission with Moorish style
architecture and is said to have been modeled after the Cathedral of
Cordova in Spain.
The local Indian tribe is
the Gabrielino. At first, they were hesitant because the soldiers
were unkind, but the fathers gained their trust and many of them
flocked to the mission. There are over 6,000 Indians buried in the
mission cemetery. Because of its location at a major crossroads from
distant areas, the mission drew many visitors. Most were just weary
travelers wanted a place to rest, eat and sleep, but some were
soldiers and others who were quite troublesome. This caused
difficulties for the Fathers and local Indians at times.
The mission did a good job
in sustenance. Many crops were grown with corn and beans being the
most common. The mission grew more wheat than any other mission. San
Gabriel supplied most of the soap and candles used by all the other
missions. They used their large excess as trade and to sell to help
provide funds for the growing mission. In 1812, an earthquake
destroyed the bell tower and other parts of the mission. The granary
was used for housing until repairs could be made. This took until
1828, but the bell tower was never replaced. Instead a bell wall
(campanario) was built with six bells.
After secularlization in
1834, the mission gradually fell into dis-repair, becoming neglected
and deserted. The church was used by the city from 1862 until 1908.
In 1908, the Claretian Missionary Fathers came and began to the
large task of restoring the mission. The Whittier-Narrows earthquake
on 1 October 1987 caused damage to the mission. It temporarily
closed while necessary repairs were made. More restoration and
repair continues today.
Contact the Mission:
Mission San Gabriel
Arcangel 428 So. Mission Drive San Gabriel, California
91776 Gift Shop Phone: 626-457-3048 Phone:
There is a legend for the
mission about a group of natives who were attacking the church. The
fathers were very frightened and held of a painting of Our Lady of
Sorrows (Virgin Mary). They say the attackers were so awe-struck by
the painting that they stopped attacking and laid their necklaces
down on the altar. The painting is still held at the mission.
The mission church is the
oldest building of its type south of Monterey. It is 150 feet long
with walls 30 feet high. The walls are five feet thick. The church
can hold about 400 people. It was built from stone, brick and mortar
and was completed in 1805 after having been started in 1791..
This mission has no
belltower rather it has a bell wall with six bells.
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last updated on 28 June 2012 at 10:30 pm
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