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San Antonio de Pala Asistencia Garden

San Antonio de Pala Asistencia & Uses of Local Stone
(Today known as Mission San Antonio de Pala)

Pala, San Diego County, California

San Antonio de Pala Asistencia today is known as “Mission San Antonio de Pala” or “Pala Mission.” It is located in northern San Diego County; and it is the only sub-mission (Asistencia) still intact, according to the Wikipedia article on the mission. The article also states that it is the only historic mission facility still serving a Mission Indian tribe.

I have placed a summary of the history and an old photgraph of the mission below the menu. Through these photographs, I want to try to present some of the uses of local or imported stone. Please note that the mission and bell tower have been restored through the years. You'll find an interesting article about the Pala Mission by using this link “Pala Asistencia (Mission San Antonio de Pala)” on the San Diego Historical Society web site. Peggy B. Perazzo

Below are excerpts from the history of the San Antonio de Pala Asistencia (today known as the Mission San Antonio de Pala or Pala Mission) from Wikipedia.  If you’d like to read the rest of the history of the mission and bell tower in addition to the sources for the article, see:  “San Antonio de Pala Asistencia” section on Wikipedia. Peggy B. Perazzo

“The San Antonio de Pala Asistencia, or the ‘Pala Mission,’ was founded on June 13, 1816 as an asistencia (‘sub-mission’) to Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, some twenty miles inland upstream from the mission on the San Luis Rey River. It was part of the Spanish missions, asistencias, and estancias system in Las Californias – Alta California. Today it is located in the Pala Indian Reservation located in northern San Diego County, with official name is now Mission San Antonio de Pala.  It is the only historic mission facility still serving a Mission Indian tribe.”

“Pala (a derivation of the native term Pale, meaning water) was essentially a small rancho surrounded by large fields and herds…Once Mission San Luis Rey began to prosper, its existence attracted the attention of large number of mountain Native Americans, called the Luiseño by the Spanish.”

Spanish Era

“The site for the Pala Mission was selected because it already was a traditional gathering place and village for the Native American residents….The chapel has interior wall surfaces featured paintings by native artists, originally measured 144 by 27 feet.  Workers went into the Palomar Mountains and cut down cedar trees for use as roof beams.  Pala is unique among all of the Franciscan missions in that it boasts the only completely freestanding campanile, or ‘bell tower,’ in all of Alta California….”

Mexican Era

“The Mexican Congress passed An Act for the Secularization of the Missions of California on August 17, 1833 (the Act was ratified in 1834).  Father Buenaventura Fortuna surrendered Mission San Luis Rey and all its holdings, including Las Flores Estancia and the Pala Asistencia, to government comisianados (commissioners) Pío Pico and Pablo de la Portillà…Fearful of the impending conquest of Alta California by the United States, Pico sold off all of the holdings (including Pala) to Antonio J. Cot and José A. Pico on May 18, 1846 for $2,000 in silver and $437.50 in wheat (the sale was later declared invalid by the U.S. Government). Through the years, priests from San Luis Rey continued to visit Pala and conduct baptisms, marriages, and worship services.”

Modern Era

On Christmas Day, 1899 the San Jacinto Earthquake shook the Pala Valley, causing the rook over the church sanctuary to collapse.  In 1902, a group calling itself the ‘Landmarks Club of Southern California,’ under the direction of American journalist, historian, and photographer Charles Fletcher Lummis, purchased Pala Mission. The following year, the Club returned ownership to the Catholic Church and ‘...saved the Chapel and a few rooms from complete ruin with a timely work of partial restoration....’

“Pala is alone among the California missions in that it has ministered without interruption to the Mission Indians for whom it was originally built since its inception.  It is also the only sub-mission (Asistencia) still intact…In 1948 the Verona Fathers (Sons of the Sacred Heart) succeeded the Franciscans in the care of the Mission.  Six years later, the fathers undertook a complete restoration of the Mission. In May, 1991 administration of the Mission reverted to the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, and since June 1996 the Barnabite Fathers have held charge over the Mission’s affairs.”

Pala’s Replica Bell Tower

“Bells were vitally important to daily life at any mission...Pala’s bells are the same ones used since 1916.  American academician, architect, and author Rexford Newcomb published design studies of the original bell tower in his 1916 work The Franciscan Mission Architecture of Alta California. Ironically, the structure was completely destroyed by torrential rains later that same year; a precise replica was erected immediately thereafter and today stands in its place. The structure measures some 35 feet above the base (which itself is 15 feet off the ground) and supports two bells, each hanging from a rawhide tether….”

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