Missionary work in Upper California was entrusted to the Franciscans, who had made several settlements in Lower California after the expulsion of the Jesuits (1767).
Father Junipero Serra, under the direction of the Spanish inspector-general, founded, 16 July 1769, San Diego.
This noted priest labored among the natives for fifteeen years, until his death in 1784, and founded eight other missions.
These settlements increased rapidly and in 1823 there were 22, extending from Sonoma in the north to San Diego in the south.
At each mission were established a church, a residence for the priests, a military guard, and shops and workrooms for the Indians, who were taught all kinds of useful trades.
The missionaries managed the spiritual and temporal affairs, and endeavored to maintain themselves independently of the government.
From 1769 till 1845, 146 Friars Minor, all priests, labored in California.
The decline of these missions began in 1822, when California became part of Mexico.
In 1834 the Mexican government turned them over to hired commissioners, who deprived the priests of their land, and enriched themselves with the possessions of the missions, which were utterly destroyed.
Consequently the Indians, freed of the benevolent government of the friars, were scattered and many lapsed into barbarism.
Locations of the Missions (in the order of their foundation):
- San Diego, 1769, 6 miles from present city;
- San Carlos de Monterey (or Carmelo), 1770, near Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey County;
- San Antonio de Padua, 1771, 6 miles from Jolon, Monterey County;
- San Gabriel, 1771, 10 miles east of Los Angeles;
- San Francisco (or Dolores), 1776, in present city of San Francisco, at Dolores and Sixteenth Streets;
- San Juan Capistrano, 1776, Orange County;
- Santa Clara, 1777, in present city;
- San Buenaventura, 1782, Ventura;
- Santa Barbara, 1786, now restored, in present city;
- Purisima Concepción, 1787, near Lompoc, Santa Barbara County;
- Santa Cruz, 1791, Santa Clara County;
- Soledad, 1791, 4 miles from present city;
- San Luis Obispo, 1792, now restored, in present city;
- San Jose, 1797, 4 miles from Irvington, Alameda County;
- San Juan Bautista, 1797, 6 miles from Sargent, San Benito County;
- San Miguel, 1797, in present city;
- San Fernando, 1797, Los Angeles County;
- San Luis Rey, 1798, now restored, near Oceanside, San Diego County;
- Santa Ines, 1804, now restored, Santa Barbara County;
- San Antonio de Pala, 1816, now restored, Pala, San Diego County;
- San Rafael; 1817, in present city;
- San Francisco Solano (or Sonoma), 1823, in city of Sonoma.
New Catholic Dictionary