California Missions


Mission San Miguel Arcangel

Mission San Miguel Arcangel
775 Mission St.
San Miguel, CA

Founded on July 25, 1797 by Father Fermin Lasuen as California's 16th mission on El Camino Real, it was named for Saint Michael the Archangel. The third mission founded by Father Lasuen in the summer of 1797 was originally constructed of adobe bricks and took approximately two years to build.

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Directions: Mission San Miguel is located just off US Highway 101 about 215 miles north of Los Angeles. Exit I-101 Freeway at 10th Street, turn right and then left onto Mission Street. Mission San Miguel is on the left.

Beautiful Mission San Miguel was founded more than 200 years ago in San Luis Obispo County 8 miles north of Paso Robles. One of our favorite missions for its country-like setting, the area is growing and houses being built around the mission in the town of San Miguel, bringing civilization ever closer to the land once owned by Spanish settlers seeking to claim California coast among its holdings far & wide.

Mission San Miguel Arcángel provides a history and stories not unlike other Central Coast California missions, and its legacy is appropriately described as an historical and cultural treasure that is part of a spiritual heritage integral to California's history.

When Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuén founded Mission San Miguel on July 25, 1797, his goal was to bridge the gap of distance between two other missions in the area-- Mission San Antonio and Mission San Luis Obispo. Each mission was designed to be one day of travel to the next. Most missions were approx. 30 miles apart.

The mission extended 18 miles to the north and south, 66 miles to the east, and 35 miles to the Pacific Ocean to the west, when first established. Fire, earthquakes and the hands of time have taken their toll on the mission structures. The 6.5 magnitude San Simeon Earthquake of December 22, 2003 damaged the structure of Mission San Miguel only 35 miles from the epicenter of the quake. A major fundraising and renovation process has been years of work and has required emergency closure of some portions of the facility since that time. Renovation in phases has allowed the church to open its sanctuary for services once again. During your visit you may see and experience work being done, and some closed areas. If you want to help, you can donate money on the mission's website.

Father Juan Martin (1770 - 1824) is credited with the success of the mission, during its reign under the Spanish government till Mexico broke free of Spanish control and secularized Mission San Miguel in 1834. With a mere 30 Native American Indians left at the mission and the Spanish Franciscans in exile from their homes, Petronillo Rios and William Reed took possession of the mission in 1846 shortly before California became a US State in 1850. The natives remaining in the mission were told that they were now free to leave the mission and none did, according to historical notes.

Rooms in the mission were converted to commercial stores such as, a hotel, saloon, and retail shops. President Buchanan returned the mission buildings and surrounding property to the Catholic Church in 1859. A resident priest was assigned to Mission San Miguel in 1878 and the mission parish was established. In 1928 the mission was returned to the Franciscans, serving as a local parish, a novitiate training school for those becoming Franciscan Friars and a center for retreats and meetings. .

On the Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel, September 29, 2009, a dedication ceremony reopened the mission along with the cemetery. The church has been renovated to appear the same as when it was founded. The inside of the church contains original hand-painted murals that were created by Indian artisans under the direction of Esteban Munras. Currently the paintings on the walls are being carefully and meticulously cleaned.

When first painted, the church sanctuary interior included artwork from Spain with an all-seeing eye of God painted above the altar.

Friends of Mission San Miguel
P.O. Box 69
San Miguel CA 93451-0069
The mission is at the South end of San Miguel, a small town about eight miles North of Paso Robles on U.S. 101. The address is 775 Mission Street (California Landmark 326)

Founded July 25, 1797
by Father Fermin Lasuen
Named San Miguel Arcangel for Saint Michael, Captain of the Armies of God

Mission San Miguel is the only one with unretouched original paintings
Mission San Miguel was the last to be secularized

Mission San Miguel Chronology

1797 - Father Lasuen founded Mission San Miguel
1803 - 1,000 Native Americans (neophytes) reside at the Mission
1806 - Fire destroys Mission San Miguel
1818 - New church completed
1835 - Secularization
1846 - Mission San Miguel sold for $600
1928 - Franciscans return to Mission San Miguel
1993 - 6.5 magnitude earthquake damages mission
2009- Ceremony officially reopens a portion of the Mission San Miguel
2011 - Restoration continues


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