Mission San Antonio de Padua

Hi everyone,

I’m in Santa Rosa again, staying with some friends. On leaving Pirate’s Cove on the 16th I checked into a motel in Paso Robles (a very nice town, by the way) and worked very hard for the rest of the day and early the following morning on an article correction.

Then I headed north to visit one of the California missions, Mission San Antonio de Padua. The missions, founded by the Francisans in the late 18th and early 20th centuries, were a fundamental aspect of the Spanish colonization of California (and of other territories too). You can learn more about the California missions here, here and here.

Editing note on October 23rd: after e-mail contact with the Mission San Antonio staff, I’ve made a few corrections in my comments.


October 17th

I leave Paso Robles mid morning and arrive at Mission San Antonio around 11:30. Mission San Antonio, I learn from Frankie in the visitor’s center, is one of the largest of the missions, the least known, the most difficult to find and the hardest one to restore. That’s why it’s the most interesting, I remark. In contrast to most of the other missions, no town grew up around it. Its isolation is due to the fact that the mission was originally surrounded by large land grants that, through several changes of ownership, eventually became a military installation. The mission is located in a small valley, away from the main routes that now follow the Salinas River. When you see how desolate that part of the Salinas Valley is, though, you can understand why the Franciscans chose to build elsewhere.

The great attraction of Mission San Antonio for me is that it is the one which best shows how the original missions appeared. The vistas from the entrance have not changed since the mission was founded in 1771.

You can read more about this remarkable historic monument here and here, and see more pictures here.

The view to the south…

5_vista - south

…and to the east…

6_vista - east

Of course, slightly further south there is the military installation, but we don’t see it from here.


The mission, from a distance:

4_mission façade - far


The front of the church. The mission is currently under orders from the state to conform to earthquake safety standards, hence the work that has recently been undertaken:

1_church façade -scaffolding bis

But they seriously need financial help. Of course, donations are welcome.


The west wing, which houses the museum, the visitor’s center and the gift shop:

3_mission façade

The gift shop contains many works by local artists for sale on consignment. It’s a very interesting shop, in fact.


The east wing…

4b_mission - east wing

A part of the mission facilities are available to rent as a retreat center.


The entrance to the courtyard:

7_garden - entrance


Restoration is a never-ending job:

8_church outside - from courtyard 9_church outside - from east


The church entrance is currently from a side door in the courtyard:

10_chapel entrance


The church still serves a functioning parish of 33 families:

11_chapel inside - far 12_chapel inside - close up


The courtyard…

13_garden - courtyard

…with its lawn….

14_garden - lawn


15_garden - trees 16_garden - palm tree

…rose garden…

16b_garden - roses

…and other flowers, for example the golden poppy, California’s state flower:

17_garden - golden poppy


In front of the church, a statue of the mission’s founder, the well-known Franciscan, Father Junipero Serra, …

19_mission - staute of founder

…badly in need of cleaning.


The mission staff is trying to restore some of the exterior plantations, to show an aspect of mission life. For example, grapes, …

20_plants - grapes

…olives, …

21_plants - olive tree 22_plants - olives

…and pomegranates:

23a_plants -pomegranite tree 23b_plants - pomegranate


I would encourage anyone travelling in California to take the time to visit Mission San Antonio. And by giving the mission this meager publicity I hope to give the mission staff a little help in meeting their 2017 deadline for the earthquake security norms. They have a special website for this preservation effort here.


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