Mission San Miguel Arcángel


Mission San Miguel

  • Founded in 1797 by the Franciscan Order, as the 16th out of 21 missions. 
  • This mission was meant to close the gap between Mission San Antonio, to the North, and Mission San Luis Obispo, to the South. 
  • The first mission burned in 1806 and was rebuilt. By 1821, the new church building was completed. 
  • Features of note
    • The Mission Arcade is a series of 12 arches and is original to the church. 
    • There are 2,248 Native Americans, likely of the Salinan tribe, which inhabited the area, are interred in the cemetery adjacent to the church. 
    • The painted walls inside the church are the original artwork by artist, Esteban Munras, and other Salinan artists. 
  • Mission lands extended for 18 miles to the North and 18 miles to the South  66 miles to the East and 35 to the Pacific Ocean. 
  • Following Mexico’s move to independence, Mission San Miguel was secularized in 1834 and put under the control of a civilian administrator.  With the exile of the Spanish Franciscans, the Salinan People left the mission for their ancestral homelands.
  • On July 4, 1846, Petronillo Rios and William Reed took possession of the mission and the Reed family occupied the recently abandoned buildings. After the 1848 murder of the Reed family members and their household staff, the mission rooms were converted to commercial stores such as a hotel, a saloon, and retail shops.
  • United States President Buchanan returned the mission buildings and the surrounding property to the Catholic Church in 1859. In 1878 a diocesan  priest was assigned  and the Parish of San Miguel was established.
  • In 1928, Mission San Miguel was again occupied and administered by Franciscan Friars of the Province of Saint Barbara and continues so to this day.

  • The church’s appearance today is much the same as when it was built.

  • The inside of the church has never been repainted. The wall frescos are the originals that were painted by Salinan artists under the direction of Esteban Munras.








  • Today’s Mission San Miguel is both a State and National Historical Landmark, an authentic reminder of California’s past. Many relics of its rich historic past ahve been recovered and reside in a small, and unfortunately, poorly lit museum. 

  • The gardens are a visual oasis of calm in a teeming busy world. 

Books and References:

Mission San Miguel Arcangel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_San_Miguel_Arcángel

Mission San Miguel http://www.missionsanmiguel.org